On their latest album, Distorted Reality, alt-rock outfit No Signal crafts an immersive aural encounter that goes beyond mere listening and enters the realm of a seminal experience. No Signal accomplishes this through their sound, blending alt-rock with prog-rock allocations.

Fronted by 21-year-old Riley Schmelzer, the seed of No Signal’s distinctive sound began when the teenaged Schmelzer plunged headfirst into music, followed by learning to play multiple instruments. After hearing Tool for the first time, he shifted his focus from pop music to progressive rock, psychedelic rock, and art rock.

Consisting of 16 tracks, entry points on Distorted Reality include “entropele,” a portmanteau from ‘entropy’ and ‘ELE’ (extinction level event), which opens on a gentle, rippling piano topped by Schmelzer’s soft voice. The harmonics elevate to heavier washes of prog-rock as the vocals take on passionate intensity.

A personal favorite, “Jane” rolls out on grinding guitars riding a mid-tempo rhythm. The combination of Schmelzer’s vocal flow with thick layers of alt-rock summons up suggestions of Chevelle, followed by a lysergic outro capped by rasping, howling vocals.

The flickering, scurrying feel of the intro to “C&B” sets the stage for an edgy, shadowy melody highlighted by Schmelzer’s portentous timbres, dripping with yearning tones. “Phosphenes,” coming in at over eleven minutes, travels on low-slung, gleaming textures that slowly build in resonance, followed by moussing up to deep, growling guitars pushing out muscular waves of energy.

No Signal, photo courtesy of No Signal
No Signal, photo courtesy of No Signal

“Cloud 1” tiptoes forth on emerging colors, accented by syncopated percussion, and then settles into a quavering, oscillating prog-rock motion full of psychedelic wrinkles. “Stranger” picks up on the leitmotif of “Cloud 1,” different but the same, giving the song luminous coruscations that expand into denser sonic fractals.

Like its name, “liminal” glides on shimmering, drifting textures, revealing an intrinsic tenderness. The title track closes the album, offering a prog-rock tune laced with elements of alt-rock. There’s a cutting sharpness to Schmelzer’s voice, imbuing the lyrics with an exigent, metallic undertone.

No Signal’s secret weapons are their fearless innovation and their gift for locking into sonic leitmotifs, thus centering their music.

Distorted Reality Track Listing:

1. entropele
2. Jane
3. Euclidian Sunrise
4. C&B
5. Embers
6. Prelude
7. Transition A
8. Phosphenes
9. Cloud 1
10. P S D
11. Stranger
12. liminal
13. ???
14. departing
15. Kiri
16. Distorted Reality

Run Time: 77:00
Release Date: August 25, 2023
Record Label: No Label Productions