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I worked on the concept of creating a new musical journey with this album, using carefully selected tracks from my back catalogue, creating a continuous program with new bridge sections,cross fades and overdubs etc.

I ended up stretching, enhancing and adding new material to create the album 'Illusions' with the addition of the bonus track; I have created a new musical journey which weaves its way through the first 10 years of my solo career.

Although each track on this album has its own 'sound' there is a common thread which influenced my choice of tracks and running order, etc.

For much of this album the instrumentation relies heavily on a combination of descant and treble recorders, e-bow guitar, sampled sounds such as 'shawm' (ancient metal oboe), nylon guitar, etc, and piano over a backdrop of gentle rhythms and orchestral keyboards.

The new material (bonus track, bridge sections, etc) feature a wide pallet of sounds including - a gregorian boys choir, a lyrical fretless bass solo, virtual acoustic wind instruments and vintage analog modular synthesisers. Also included are 'ambient' recordings of local sounds such as - seashore and birdsong.

Most of the tracks featured on this album were much longer in their original form.

The intention with those early albums was to create extended 'soundscapes' for use in a variety of alternative therapies, relaxation or personel growth techniques. These arrangements are obviously still valid in their own right, but I feel the shorter form creates a new perspective very much in keeping with the 'journey' quality I have created here. In a sense all that energy has been distilled with this retrospective project.

Travelling the world during the early '90s, I found myself gradually moving away from the classic 'new age' keyboard/guitar/synthesiser sound with the use of more exotic instruments and ethnic influences with albums like 'Initiation', 'Shaman' and 'Tibetan Horn'. The success of these albums allowed me to upgrade my studio with state of the art digital recording and editing equipment. The new technology has opened up all sorts of new techniques in sound manipulation resulting in recent albums such as 'Immortal Egypt' and 'Alien Encounter' which would have been impossible to create using traditional techniques.

As a result of this new sonic freedom I became inspired with the idea of taking a fresh look at some of my favourite tracks from earlier albums. New World Music encouraged me to look at the more reflective tracks as they felt there was the basis of a new album hidden amongst this material. With so much of this material being concerned with the local countryside the result is not just a musical journey, but a personnel journey of rediscovery for me as well.

Phil Thornton
Sussex, England - January 2001

Illusions - 2001 release

Album Details

Released 1996 by New World Music.

Re-released 2001 by New World Music.

  1. Laughing Wolf Madrigal (6:38)
  2. Inside (6:58)
  3. Phoenix (4:49
  4. Timeless Passion (8:00)
  5. Alchemy (8:27)
  6. Through A Lovers Eyes (6:35)
  7. Spirit In Flight (6:14)
  8. As Above, So Below (5:06)
  9. No Walls To Contain My Spirit (7:59)
  10. Casting Pearls (7:59)
  11. Illusions (5:05)

    For more detailed track notes, please click here.

All tracks arranged and performed by Phil Thornton with Ian Barnett - Acoustic 6 string guitar (track 6), Simon Cowburn - Moaning conga (track 11) and Grant Young - Fretless bass (track 11).

All tracks composed and produced by Phil Thornton (accept track 5 co-written with Harvey Summers).

Compiled and enhanced (including bonus track) at the 'Expandibubble' studio, Sussex, England - 2000

Digitally re-mastered at Medium Moose studio, Sussex, England

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