"Reflection of Time"

Press Reviews






The fact that Minneapolis-based composer John Lyell has decided to devote more time to write and record ambient music has led to a rather quick follow-up to his fine 2012-album "Eternity".

"Reflection of Time", his third solo-release to date, is another nicely rendered album of cosmic space music, blending atmospheric and textural spaces with soft pulsating elements in a harmonic fashion. Again, the composer shows he has had a good ear for detail, as he displays a 59-minute soft glowing canvas of with drifting soundscapes with slight unpolished edges.

Its intrinsic nature is emphasized by Robert Rich, who again was in charge of the album mastering. The eight tracks unfold and go by rather elegantly but not too soft, creating a tranquil sphere overall that invites the listener to make up his own set of images while galactic winds show up and disappear. In my opinion, the best galactic vistas and sense of wonder though are best displayed and expressed on the 7-minute title track and the closing piece "Crossing the Barrier".

As a whole, the at times dreamy "Reflection of Time" opens up its own space of otherworldliness while it expands on the road pursued on "Eternity".

~ Bert Strolenberg - Sonic Immersion



eTripper   (April 2014)

* * * * *  An unbounded adventure into the ever-expansive cosmos.


John Lyell's third solo effort, extends the vast explorations initiated by "Dimensions", and "Eternity". In "Reflection of Time" the artist creates an ambient score, and sets a mood where the listener is transported beyond his mere corporeal realm into the vastness of limitless space. A compelling voyage whose scope is both overwhelming, and unlimited. An unbounded adventure into the ever-expansive cosmos.

The music is the usual high-quality, thought-provoking Lyell score. This CD ranks among one of the best ambient CD's this year. In effect, John 'Crosses the Barrier' into domains frequented by artists such as: Jonn Serrie, Meg Bowles, Max Corbacho, and Rudy Adrian. The signature offering here, for me would be the track: "Space Ethereal" A beautiful, lilting piece suggestive of the rapture of space itself. The whole project is vintage-Lyell at his best; from the music within to the artwork its packaged. An excellent addendum to your ambient-space library.


~ eTripper



SYNTH & SEQUENCES  (April 2014)
“Reflection of Time is a very beautiful album of ambient, cosmic or esoteric music which crosses new borders”

John Lyell is an American musician who began his career by playing guitar, at the dawn of the 80's, within diverse rock and hard rock bands. His career took a tangent closer to the electronic art at the beginning of the 90's when he discovered the ambient and cosmic music by listening to the famous radio show Hearts of Space. Since then this musician native of Minneapolis built quietly his own studio.

He became with the years a very active personality in the up universe of the cosmic digital art, we can view his numerous paintings on his web site, and the ambiospherical American music by becoming a composer, a producer and a sound engineer for various projects which were inspired by the horizons of this American cult radio show.

“Reflection of Time” is his 5th album and presents a very beautiful collection electronic music pieces where the mysticism and the esotericism mix up on structures of ambient, as dark as romantic in the soft fragrances of Vangelis, where the stars and celestial bodies sing the divinities of a cosmos to the unsuspected horizons such as put in music by a passionate of astronomy.

And we enter the universe of John Lyell's intergalactic atmospheres by the main entrance with steps of a sequencer to staggering organic chords which open the fragile ambient pace of "The Deep Unknown". Our ears discover, or imagine, a fascinating intergalactic dialect with tones which adopt a delicate structure of rhythms of which the little deformed echoes resound under morphic synth pads.

"Above the Stratos" roots the perception that we are almost in the psybient world by spreading its translucent seraphic pads, where fine voice filets from the oracles of snows are escaping, which cover some electronic chirpings frozen between two ambiospherical layers. This is soft and floating, just like the title-track which takes the air of an ambient funeral walking and the next 40 minutes of “Reflection of Time”. Closer to the melancholic spaces of Vangelis, "Dreaming in Sine Waves" spreads some delicate arpeggios which sing their fragilities in breezes of Orion. It's a very beautiful piece of music soaked of an attractive ethereal approach, just like the very beautiful "Space Ethereal"; the most beautiful track, imho, of “Reflection of Time” with this superb voice of cosmic Efle which hums with a symphony of stars.

"A Far Away Place" is not outdone with its heavy and slow cosmic waves which roll over the singings of forgotten celestial bodies. Soft, dark and very melancholic. "Dreaming in Sine Waves II" presents the little darker side of its first part. But if the arpeggios are ringing with so much brightness here, the ambient structure is clearly gloomier. And we cannot be immersed farther in the cosmos than with the very black "Crossing the Barrier". This long ambient track sounds like a slow journey inside a space shuttle, needs to listen to it with headphones, where, fascinated, we watch the blackness becoming blacker. Even the seraphic voices, very discreet y the way, cannot manage to uproot this perception to sink into even more dark.

I have to admit that I was a little bit sceptical at the idea of discovering a new artist who does in ambient and cosmic EM. There is so many out there that we have the impression to always listen to the same thing. Except that the music of John Lyell really has its seal. If we can make a bit of comparison, that would be with the romantic approaches of Vangelis. As for the rest, we are in originality or something that I still don't know. We can make links with Michael Stearns, for the ambient cosmic approach, but they are very fragile. Making of John Lyell an extremely rare artist who arrives to found his place in a musical crenel aired from everywhere.

“Reflection of Time” is a very beautiful album of ambient, cosmic or esoteric music which crosses new borders. To discover …

~ Sylvain Lupari - Synth & Sequences



Richard Gurtler - Bratislava, Slovakia  (May 2014)

"Reflection Of Time" CD by John Lyell is out since March 31st, 2014, as a self-release by the artist himself. I must say that the name of John Lyell is a brand new to me, but this is already 5th album by this US ambient composer, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

First two albums are collaborations with Brent A. Reiland, "Wormholes" (1998) and "Synthetic Universe" (2002), while the following recordings were released solo. "Dimensions" in 2006 and "Eternity" in 2012. Shame on me I didn't discover John Lyell much sooner, but I always keep on saying, it's better later than never !!! "Reflection Of Time" comes in 4-panel digipak with catchy front cover image executed by John, who is also a crafted digital art designer. I also have to add that John Lyell is a musician since 1984 and performed as a guitar player with various rock and hard rock bands. A quite interesting transition, so let's take this deep spatial voyage.

"The Deep Unknown" unfolds quite briskly with highly magnetizing texture delicately melting colder cybernetic sequencer motifs with quietly tranquil and panoramically expansive synth undulations, occasionally interrupted by alien sighs or invaded by sublime silence. Wow, a very strong launching by John Lyell !!! "Above The Stratos" cascades through shimmering hissy terrains, pierced by unpredicted fragments and outbursts, raw or high-tech, reaching a fairly reverberating magnitude. All guarded by mesospheric phantoms. "Dreaming In Sine Waves" is by far more calmer and minimal, moving through delicately detailed dreamy crescendos, the wind sings its anthem and counterpoints with seraphic chants.

"A Far Away Place" quickly dives into harsher drone hums coupled with massive seashore sounds. Emerging ethereal traceries with awaken nostalgic memories intricately nourish the contrasting colors. "Space Ethereal" relieves the atmozone with serenely progressing contemplative space tinkles, while alluring angelic choirs hang above and once in a while intermingle with sighing wind. A truly peaceful and warmly enveloping composition !!! "Dreaming In Sine Waves 2" keeps on the similar path as its predecessor, although tranquilly embracing tinkling sounds are enhanced by infrequent sharper infusions and shift the listener into mysteriously infinite realms to explore its riveting secrets.

The title composition "Reflection Of Time" quietly meanders through gorgeously boundless spheres, when melting mesmerizingly circling bass sounds with diaphanous tinkles euphoniously popping up. But also soothingly surrounding synth layers rise here and there and together with scattered cybernetic swirls, grumbles and sighs enchantingly illuminate the flight path. Fully loaded with subtle elegance!!! "Crossing The Barrier" returns to overwhelmingly unfathomable drone domains, enhanced by remote hissy vibrations and sparse high-pitched expansions. Tremendously mindscaping phantasmal voices contemplate throughout. A flawless closer !!!

John Lyell with his album "Reflection Of Time" has completely surpassed all my expectations, this is definitely a very refreshing and welcome addition to the pantheon of sophisticated deep space monuments, both, aurally and visually.

"Reflection Of Time" is a definite must-have for all aficionados, who are searching for a fascinatingly multifarious outer space odyssey. Kudos to John Lyell !!!

By the way, the mastering job was given to Robert Rich, who has already polished with his engineering skills previous two recordings of John Lyell.


~ Richard Gürtler  (May 08, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)





This release from 2014 features 59 minutes of electronic ambient music.

Delicate electronics and keyboards produce soothing ambience.

Texturals play a vital role in this music, establishing luxurious vapors which are then elaborated on by additional tonalities, resulting in lush vistas of atmospheric definition.

Auxiliary electronics in the form of subtle effects pepper the mix, lending instances that mildly deviate from the even sonic constancy, flavoring things with an element of variance.

Keyboards contribute gentle embellishments to this flow. The chords are soft and unhurried, unfurling into threads that help tinge this harmonic tuneage with touches of melody. Frequently the keyboards adopt a twinkling persona, enhancing the music's shimmering demeanor.

Percussion would only interfere with Lyell's flowing structures, so no rhythms are found in this music.

These compositions are reflective and relaxing in their influence. The tunes evoke a journey that unifies the listener with streams of light undergoing environmental treatments, twisting, separating, spiraling, blossoming into tender shimmers as the soundscapes undergo subtle evolution.


~ Matt Howarth - Sonic Curiosity



HYPNAGOGUE  (October 2014)


Dear Spacemusic Fans: If you have not already familiarized yourself with John Lyell, please do so immediately. His music falls in a perfect space between classic glimmer-of-stars drifts and Quiet Music-style ambient hush. His signature chime tones are round and soft and calming, gentle pings against ethereal washes, like Eno’s Thursday Afternoon set adrift in the cosmos.

Reflection of Time is his latest excursion and it continues an excellent line of releases. Before Lyell goes full space on us, he opens the disc with robotic rhythms on bass keys underscoring pads on “The Deep Unknown.” Nice old-school feel right off the bat, and Lyell moves his burbling analog sounds around your head for full effect.

From here, however, we simply glide into deeper realms and the aforementioned chimes take over. The two parts of “Dreaming in Sine Waves” are warm and blissful. There’s almost too much whooshing electronic wind happening on the first one, but it comes and goes, and in between I’m utterly charmed by the resonant tones of the chimes and the occasional spiraling electronic twist, so I let it go. The second is simply perfect, especially to an old analog lover like me. It’s a beautiful piece that’s comfortably familiar and nicely executed. A sequenced bass phrase repeats quietly beneath the chimes, and long pads draw out a song in slow motion.

The title track is mesmerizing. It opens very quietly, its motion minimal at best, just a low-end pulse. Even the chimes here feel dialed back just a touch; everything rises and falls like it wants you to hear it but doesn’t want to intrude. It’s a very hushed and dreamy atmosphere that will absolutely bring you to a meditative state if you let it. This is a great showcase for Lyell’s subtle touch and his understanding of how potent quiet can be. You just want to remain still and watch it unfold in the air around you.

Reflection of Time is a release that is bound to get a lot of looping play, and deservedly so. It’s one of those works that changes the space you’re in by its softness. Plus, again, if you love old school spacemusic, that deliciously angular construction that comes with knob twiddling and sequencing, you can’t help but love this release. Lyell is well-studied in the art, and he absolutely owns it here. Over the months that I’ve had this and the number of times I’ve gone through it, Reflection of Time has become a personal favorite. You need to hear this.


~ John Shanahan - Hypnagogue Music Reviews



WIND AND WIRE  (January 2015)


Minneapolis ambient artist John Lyell purposely tries to take each successive album in a slightly different direction (he cites Steve Roach as an influence in this regard, not just his music but his always-morphing style as well). It didn't take long during my first listen to Reflection of Time to discern that either. Lyell's previous release, Eternity, was a soft-edged space exploration with an emphasis on waves of flowing electronic melodies, sometimes punctuated by gentle pulsing rhythms. Not dark by any stretch of the imagination, it was closer to the spacier side of Jonn Serrie's early work. On his newest recording, Lyell morphs that formula somewhat and invites the listener deeper into the inky-black backwaters of the galaxy and sometimes out into the space between galaxies where nothingness beckons with a sense of both awe and forlornness. Lyell's music is still not what I would label as dark or "scary," but it's more moody and evoking of the loneliness and isolation of deep space travel (or what I might assume it to be).

One of the most distinct differences musically is a shift to less of a melodic-based approach and more of a textural one, as well as the use of retro electronic "SF" effects, e.g. burbling synths, static noises, spacy sounds. Yes, Lyell's deft touch with shimmering bell-like tones is still present but so are many instances where the electronics, devoid of overt musicality, are also at center stage. It's to Lyell's credit that he deftly manages to blend these apparently disparate elements into a cohesive whole, somehow mixing them into an alchemy that evokes both golden age science fiction films with their synthesized sounds and early electronic music releases (from artists like the late Michael Garrison or Patrick Gleason or even Larry Fast, perhaps) as well as a contemporary sensibility with top notch production quality. Lyell's discs have always sounded good and Reflection of Time is no different, especially since it was mastered by Robert Rich, although credit is also due the artist himself who handled production and engineering.

Another thing that I give props to Lyell for is how he avoids the ambient/spacemusic pitfall of extra-long tracks, i.e. individual songs of over 10 minute duration. Apparently, he favors brevity over track duration, of which I am particularly grateful. The album contains eight tracks, averaging about 7 minutes or so in length.

On "The Deep Unknown," we are off cruising into the blackness with a repeating pattern of sonar-esque blips (like a repeating radio signal) set off against a series of shadowy synth washes and whooshing effects that sometimes echo off into the distance in a forlorn fashion. Things brighten a bit on "Above the Stratos" with static-effect noises intermixed with retro-synth SF-themed sounds, blipping and bleeping, and ethereal chorals. It's hard to "describe" the overtly SF/computer-like synth effects, but you will know them when you hear them. The ebbing and flowing static in the background might grate on some folks' ears, but likely only if you are listening on headphones. On "Dreaming In Sine Waves" we are settled in for a dreamy smooth passage through deep space with twinkling bell tones and lots of whooshing sounds and an occasional burbling series of synth effects. The loneliness of isolation is conveyed in "A Far Away Place" with more background static-like sounds (almost akin to waves continuously crashing on a beach but distorted) and the barest hint of melodic content in the way of a occasional synth wash or keyboard tone. "Space Ethereal" features reverbed bell tones and gentle bass rhythms pinging into the emptiness, cradled by vibrato chorals and occasional synthesized sighs of relief.

Three more tracks flesh out the release: "Dreaming In Sine Waves 2," "the title track, and Crossing the Barrier." All three take elements already presented in previous songs and shuffles them in how they are used, so that no one track sounds too much like another and yet all eight songs have definite cohesion. "Crossing The Barrier" is the sparsest piece on the album; it's more or less a layering of drones and tones gently easing the album to its warm, amiable conclusion.

I admire how John Lyell has not settled into a successful groove and has opted to allow his spacemusic to evolve over these last three releases. From a purely personal standpoint, I don't know that I "like" Reflection of Time as much as I did Eternity (his previous recording), but I recognize how much care Lyell put into his new album and applaud him in that regard. Reflection of Time is perfect for late-night imaginary stargazing or maybe star-tripping is a better phrase. This is a great soundtrack for a dark-room imaginary excursion to Orion's Belt and other distant destinations out among the comsos.


~ Bill Binkelman - Wind and Wire