Suspended In Reflections plays out like an elongated dream. You’re floating in a sea of violet-blue light that reaches out into the expanses of forever one second, then you’re standing naked in the desert the next. Then you’re drowning. Then you’re back to the light. The cycle continues. Much like a dream, Ancestors weaves its aural tapestry of tangentially unrelated ideas into a beautiful, shimmering vision that couldn’t possibly make sense anywhere else but here.
Ancestors has never not been a master of its craft. The band released three albums between 2008 and 2012 and managed to not only explore a perfect mix between psychedelic, Pink Floyd-esque shoegaze-y rock and straight up stoner doom, but nailed it every single step of the way. Then Ancestors fell silent. For six years. Rumblings of a new album turned into deafening roars, turned into the announcement of Suspended In Reflections and the lead single “The Warm Glow.” The song adheres to Ancestors‘ mantra of “My doctor said never play above your pulse rate” and spans a wide range of styles from a lilting piano ballad to slow, driving crescendos rife with distortion and fuzzy guitar solos. I was hooked. Maybe even cautiously in love.
Fortunately for me, and you, the rest of Suspended In Reflections is exactly as diverse and meticulously plotted as the lead single would have you believe. Opener “Gone” comes crashing down on you only to purposefully lose steam and lay back into the gentle ebb and flow of “Through A Window.” Whose chorus, by the way, is anthemic enough to hopefully warrant its own extended jam in a live setting. “Lying In The Grass” masterfully switches between electric piano and heavy vocoder to human voices without any warning as it slowly builds to yet another understated-yet-monumental climax in the album’s endless wave of understated-yet-monumental climaxes.
Which is the name of the game. Suspended In Reflections as a whole flows from song to song without losing any energy between transfers, undulating like waves built to break into the dreamy shoreline and catch the glimmer of the setting sun perfectly every time. It’s an album written as an album, to be heard as one peace. As a breathtaking dream whose components are less than the sum of its parts.
What’s even more impressive is the continuity of instrumentation on Suspended In Reflections. There’s never an outlandish amount of instruments added to make a section feel any sort of way – Ancestors‘ writing is powerful and intelligent enough to accomplish that with your standard rock band setup and a keyboard. Moments like the intro to “Into The Fall” make you take pause at its grandiose beauty, only to feel a contented happiness when the distortion fades away and it’s all gently picked guitars and a viola.
The entirety of album is also underlined by the use of an Æolian-Skinner pipe organ throughout. Yes, the kind you’s find occupying an entire wall at your local church. Though attention is never called to it. The Æolian-Skinner isn’t a gimmick for press release purposes or used as a filler when the band couldn’t come up with a solid transition, but instead is written into the fabric of Suspended In Reflections and as if it were the most natural decision in the world.
You’re going to hear Suspended In Reflections and sit in awe as the colors swirl around you, encompassing you. As acoustic guitars and keyboards melt into crushing riffs, as vocoders suddenly become human, as pianos fill the air with lasting melodies. Suspended In Reflections truly does sound like a dream – wondrous, as if it were coming from beyond the limits of waking creativity.
You are alone, but happy. You are infinite. You are a nomad in every place that does not exist and nothing can harm you. Suspended In Reflections is the beautiful soundtrack to that and it is perfect.