Both highly personal and wholly universal, Tilian shares his newest project, Factory Reset, today (Friday, April 23rd) to the world. Beginning the creation of the album just a few weeks after the rise of the pandemic, Tilian stayed locked tight in California and dug deep within himself creatively for the next chapter of his solo project. “I was searching for meaning in isolation and found it in creating this album,” Tilian shares about the process. He decided to write, record, and produce the album himself, eventually remotely bringing in drummer/frequent collaborator Kris Crummett to help button it up.
Having full creative control allowed Tilian to experiment more than ever, and truly be himself in the process. “[I wanted] to make the album that I want to hear. ‘What would be my favorite band?’ as opposed to, ‘What is everyone’s favorite band?’” This resulted in his most thrillingly eclectic work to date: a falsetto-laced brand of alt-pop that spans everything from trippy psychedelia and heavy prog riffs to warped hip-hop beats and dembow grooves.
Beginning the album, “Holy Water,” is a smooth, cool-cut track laced with harmonizing guitar and alt-pop elements. In this track, the lyricism shines in the abstract images conveyed to tell the story of Conclusion becomes an experiment of sound with the guitar; which changes the tempo and becomes its own until the finish.
While “Dose” delves into his punchy pop-rock side, it hits the ears with his signature angelic vocals while remaining unafraid of its heavy, progressive rock roots. “Dose” doesn’t hesitate to explore the conflicts of an explosive and toxic relationship. It captivates us in the storm of emotions expressed and pulls us to and fro as the song continues to express the vicious cycle of the relationship as it slowly poisons them to stay involved in it.
Speaking about the single Tilian said, “‘Dose’ was the first thing I dove into after touring was cancelled earlier this year. Though the initial rush of creativity hit like an avalanche, I spent a long time letting the song breathe and grow into what it is now—a piece I am truly proud of” (1).
“Caught in the Carousel,” offers a fresh take on Tilian’s journey through discovering a new voice in its experiment with whirring synth elements and a steady, slow tempo in each verse. The track battles with the cycle of self-doubt, and obsessive thought patterns that lie in insecurity. With its upbeat sound, it contrasts with vulnerable lyrics to challenge the audience to think deeper of the futility in not feeling good enough.
Next, the electro-pop sizzler, “Anthem,” hints at Tilian’s spiritual awakening in the middle of a creative breakthrough during a difficult period in his life. It’s that moment of relief after facing a “sacred epiphany,” he says about the track, and it seems that the artist faced it personally as well as creatively.
“In that moment you are so mentally and physically in tune it becomes effortless to discern truth from vanity, substance from pretense, value from worthlessness. It’s the perfect alignment of perception and anatomy where imaginative ammunition flows through you in a waterfall of clarity. Precious, blissful and untouchable, it’s that rarest hour of passion every writer dreams about.”
While the track discusses the personal breakthrough for Tilian, it could be interpreted in multiple other ways. This includes the similar instrumental use from the previous track, which shared the vulnerability and struggle through difficulty and insecurity. “Anthem” could be interpreted as the sequel to “Caught In The Carousel” for those reasons, just as it expresses the remedy and breakthrough from self doubt. “Been making hours out of every minute…” Tilian sings in the first verse, expressing the weight of anxiety and insecurity. In the chorus, he continues, creating an uplifting message to inspire the audience that with a bit of self care and changed perspective, healing can be found. “Change my dirty lens/make this permanent.” In changing one’s perspective on themselves, rather than simply sitting with the demons whispering insecurities, poisoning the mind, we can clear the mind and find rest, confidence, and a remedy. Both interpretations of this track seem valid, which adds to the skill in Tilian’s songwriting and producing abilities as a whole.
“Breathe” is a short but sweet track that feels like a breath of fresh air. Less than two minutes long, Tilian’s angelic vocals shine clean and crisp like a morning breeze.
Delving into more rock elements, “All I Crave Is Peace,” blends a little electro-pop and experiments with the blend of the two genres, highlighting the lyricism and vocals through conveying a story familiar to our memories as it cries for justice, wisdom, and peace.
Cooling things further with a simple instrumental intro, Tilian’s vocals go on full display with striking falsetto notes in “Is Anarchy A Good Hobby?” then transitions into whispering notes chanting through the being. While various genres intertwine into an electronic anthem standing alone in its strength lyrically and in production. Following “All I Crave Is Peace,” this track follows along similar threads as if blending into the next chapter of a novel. It’s the pursuit and achievement of a necessary destruction, and the joy that is released afterward, as stated by Tilian about the track. Depicting a dramatic war of chaos and destruction, there is indeed reward found at times when all that is left is coming face to face with nothing but the darkness. In deconstructing that, we learn to rebuild stronger, and hopefully better in the end.
The album’s title track, “Factory Reset,” continues with a new direction; blending in hip hop, an unexpected direction from Tilian, but a welcomed one. No matter where the artist goes creatively, Tilian never ceases to push the envelope creatively.
Next, “Imagination,” featuring a catchy instrumental intro, the melody itches for dance movement and seems to blend in some Hispanic inspirations as done with “Calamiento Global” did in Dance Gavin Dance’s Afterburner. As another vocally impressive track, the slow tempo marries Tilian’s signature high vocals with a groove that will send anyone on their feet dancing.
“Act Out,” breathes in nostalgia for summer nights at a club, grouped up with others and simply having a good time. Sometimes when life is rough, we could forget our problems for a short while by retreating to simple evenings out, going on wild adventures with strangers late. Typically, a song like this could be seen as shallow due to the normalization of tracks pumped out much like this in mainstream pop culture, but living without the ability to “go out” and be with large crowds, there’s almost a sadness in this track for all the opportunities and simplicity in these kinds of things now being gone.
Concluding Tilian’s full length, “Hands Around My Throat” dives into rock elements again before breaking into a classic-meets-modern blend of instrumentals. The vocals become a cry out to be uncompromising in the face of fame. Tilian’s album shares his creative and personal journey through rediscovery of sound and self, with this track being the perfect conclusion. In all the shifting and shaping and growing, ultimately, the message states that change is only worth it if you’re doing it for the sake of improving oneself and not to impress others.
Stream Factory Reset, now available on all streaming platforms: