- Enchanted [8:31]
- Duende [5:23]
- Twilight [6:05]
- Silence [6:33]
- Forgotten worlds [7:33]
- Lamentation [8:32]
- Euphoria (firefly) [5:27]
- Remembrance [7:28]
- Wisdom [4:48]
- Window to your soul [9:25]
- 'til the end of time [4:36]
Sarah McLachlan, Kristy Thirsk, Jacqui Hunt, Camille Henderson (vocals).
Delerium make their return with their sophomore Nettwerk release, Karma. The disc starts off with the beautiful, mystical track enchanted. Featuring vocalist Kristy Thirsk (from Semantic Spaces, and Nettwerk label mates Rose Chronicles), the track slowly builds with a tribal sound. about 2:30 in, Kristy appears with a beat tempting you to listen closer. What strikes you right away is that her vocals are more layered and complex in this track. The lyrical sections are both sinister and sexual, and give way to an impressively beautiful chorus that brightens the song. A truly wonderful track, and if you weren't psyched for Delerium's latest before, you are now. Drawbacks for some people would be the somewhat long intro before a beat or vocalist. Certain parts of the song tend to drag on a bit, but overall, the song was well put together and really sets the stage for the rest of the album.
(2) Duende Delerium's second single from the album, Duende opens up with an almost Intermix:Future Primitives sound, and immediately changes to a very modern techno-influenced tribal sound. When the drumbeat kicks in (approximately 1:30 into the song), you realize you're in for a powerful ride! But most surprising here is that the capable vocalist is NOT Kristy Thirsk! It's Camille Henderson, whose voice integrates perfectly into Duende acting as both voice and instrument. Excellent layering and effects, combined with enchanting lyrics make for an exquisite new twist to the Delerium theme. A more vocal track than any of its predecessors, it shows the complexity and diversity of Karma as a whole. This track was a club single, and it can easily be seen why - good dance beat, and vocals to match. There's really nothing technically wrong with this song, and it doesn't drag on too long at all. The only downside is once you really start to get used to Camille, she's gone. There's always next record. =)
Twilight arrives just in time to give the angels a break and to remind everyone that this *IS* still Delerium. The first instrumental on the disc, Twilight instantly brings out thoughts of Semantic Spaces. A good track mixing analog and digital sounds. The chorus of the song swells from the usual percussive melody with thin (for Delerium) accompaniment to a beautiful full harmony that really is inspiring. A piano solo towards the end is also a very ethereal touch. The track might continue on a bit too long in some spots, but at 6:05, it's basically just right.
Silence begins with a male chorus and soloist, who suddenly give the spotlight to another wonderful voice - a female - also choral-style. The duet continues until about 1:30 into the track, when Sarah McLachlan takes center stage. Sarah's amazingly delicate yet powerful voice definitely carries this song, taking you from a wary crouch to a enthralling leap, and back. This is truly an amazing track, with great vocals from both Sarah and the chorus, and perfectly matching music. If music is art, this is the Sistine chapel. About the only thing wrong with this song is the fact that it is not a single, but perhaps it was the fear that it would upstage Sarah's own "Building a Mystery". Who knows. In any event, this is probably the best track on the album.
(5) Forgotten Worlds
Sarah exits and gives way to an instrumental that is clearly reminiscent of older Delerium and side projects. A dark beginning leads to world beat instruments. The beat kicks in, revealing sound samples of Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance. Lisa did not specifically record for this album, but authorized samples from some DCD tracks. A slow track, not much to it after the first couple of minutes. What sounds like an opera male voice appears in the chorus, adding an interesting flair to the track.
Lamentation opens up with a very lonely woodwind instrument. The track begins about 1:30 in, with some more isolated instruments. Throughout the (very) long buildup, you have a sense that something is going to happen with this track, probably due to the sustained deep analog note that was present from the opening second of the track. Suddenly, at about 2:50, the track comes to life, with the male choir and string/synth sounds. When the bass line appears, you are convinced you've heard this before - from Semantic Spaces. It's not an exact match, but very close. An angel appears and begins humming a beautiful melody. Its amazing how much this track transforms from slow, lonely lamentation, to a warm glowing happiness. Maybe not for everyone, but for those who appreciate this side of Delerium, its a wonderfully relaxing piece.
(7) Euphoria (Firefly)
The first track from Karma, Euphoria never really pretends to be anything BUT a modern dance track. The noises, the beats, it all comes together quite nicely into a radio and club friendly track. This is not to say that it isn't Delerium enough, or that it's not good -- quite the contrary! The vocalist starts singing, and you are convinced that it's Madonna. Further auscultation reveals that it is not Madonna, but the talented Jacqui Hunt of Australia's Single Gun Theory. This song has all the pieces of a great Delerium track - excellent vocals, rising and ebbing supporting synths, beautiful mixes of the two, a great beat, the percussive keyboard. It has the extra bonus of some slick club-style noises and beats. Overall, a great track! A bit straight-forward for some people, but this IS Delerium's most diverse album. A welcome addition.
The male choir is at it again in Remembrance, which at first listen is a surprisingly light and bright track. A bit Spheres/Semantic Spaces influenced, Remembrance is a well-flowing track featuring beautiful choir vocals supplemented with the usual array of Delerium soundscapes. Another track that I'd describe as artistically beautiful and expansive. A full sounding song that I really have difficulty giving words to. I guess I'll just say that I like it. More tracks with these church-choir monk type vocals would be very welcome in the future.
Wisdom brings us back to a familiar and happy place - that is, right from the start, we are enchanted by the wonderful Kristy Thirsk. Her second track on the album, she treats us to a very vocal performance. If Delerium made ballads per se, this is the ballad. Wisdom is like Euphoria in that it is highly vocal-oriented, but unlike Euphoria, has an air of innocence. It's a personal and emotional song. If you close your eyes, you could imagine that the song was written for you. This one takes probably more than one listen to appreciate fully, but that just shows the maturity of the writing behind it on all accounts.
(10) Window To Your Soul
Review for this track forthcoming.
(11) 'Til the End of Time
At first, you think this is eastern track part 2, with female samples instead. But that just isn't the case. The angelic Kristy Thirsk comes out for an encore in a mystical and worldly track to end the main album (or first disc for those lucky enough to have the 2 disc version). The track slowly moves over the notes and Kristy matches and surpasses even the most enticing sound effect. Like a slow-motion sex scene in a love story, 'til the end of time gives you the impression that the end is just the beginning, and there's more to come. It's actually kind of hard to say goodbye to Karma. A cozy relaxing track. The only drawback is the fact that the eastern female vocal sample can detract from the track a little bit.
Karma is the natural evolution from Semantic Spaces. It shows a more full mature instrumental sound along with better use and selection of vocals. While no one would argue that Flowers Become Screens is still one of the top tracks in the Leeb/Fulber catalogue, Semantic Spaces lacked a bit in areas where Karma excels. Karma has more diversity, more fullness, and more distinction between moods, sounds, effects, and direction. Overall, I think it's one of the best discs released in 1997.
Delerium's latest, Karma, is pretty much a direct follow-on from 1994's Semantic Spaces, and offers the same mix of club-friendly rhythms, chants and female vocals. It's not quite as Enigma-esque as its predecessor was, though. That's not for the reason that you would necessarily expect though - this most certainly isn't a step back towards the Delerium sound of old, if anything Karma is a step nearer to straight-forward, accessible pop.Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. While I'd imagine many Delerium fans will throw their arms up in dismay at the continuing commercialization of this once obscure side-project, I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the results. Leeb and Fulber, in association with a number of female vocalists, have managed to produce an album that retains many of the characteristics of Semantic Spaces and mixes it with some truly gorgeous pop songs. Yep, pop songs, I can't think of any other name for them. They've got pop hooks, they're very nicely programmed, and the vocals are wonderful.It's obvious that the label has given the duo a bigger budget this time around. No sampled Gregorian chant here, this is courtesy of a live men's choir. The samples here (all credited in the liner notes) do help give an idea of what to expect of the album - sources include a couple of Dead Can Dance tracks, something from Ritual Music of the Kayapo-Xikrin, Brazil, and a heap of stuff from those popular chart favorites, the Baka Forest Pygmies. The fact that Semantic Spaces was pretty successful has also helped the duo expand the selection of guest vocalists this time. Kristy Thirsk returns again to provide vocals for three tracks, Camille Henderson (have to admit I don't know who she is) provides vocals for one, Sarah McLachlan (of, well, Sarah McLachlan) provides vocals for another, and Jacqui Hunt of Single Gun Theory also appears. The remaining three tracks are instrumentals.
The album's first track, "Enchanted", features the voice of Kristy Thirsk. It's a gentle lead-in for the album, as it's one of the more Semantic Spaces-like tracks here. The rhythm track that eventually emerges has more of a tribal feel, and it's accompanied by some nicely chosen vocal samples (courtesy of the pygmies). Thirsk does her (presumably trade marked) "Ooooh! Aaaaah!" routine, as well as providing regular vocals which seem to me to be an improvement on her performance on the previous album. As with that album, there's a lot going on in the background, a suitably lazy beat, etc, etc.
The next track, "Duende" is the second single to be taken from the album. Again, it plays the uncharacteristic beginning trick on us, with a tribal intro that's reminiscent of older Delerium. However, the track that emerges is a rather bouncy little affair that fuses a lively rhythm track with Camille Henderson's (sometimes treated) vocals, typically Leeb/Fulber keyboard work and odd little bits of tribal chant. It's really rather nice, and the first hint of the more pop-oriented feel of the album.
"Twilight" is much more typical Delerium, with familiar melodic touches. This one's very clearly the work of Leeb/Fulber and will provide some consolation for those devastated by the poppier material here.
"Silence" is Sarah McLachlan's track, and it's heavy on the Gregorian chant. It's very Enigma-like - almost excessively so. McLachlan's vocal performance, but I have to say that if I had to choose between this and her other dance-industrial collaboration, with Manufacture, I'd go for the Manufacture track.
The next track, "Forgotten Worlds", is strictly speaking another instrumental, and again highlights a more familiar sound, albeit over a dance beat. That said, Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance should really get a vocal credit here, as the sample of her voice is plastered all over the track to an almost embarrassing degree. It's a pleasant enough track, in a "Dead Can Disco Dance" way.
The lengthy "Lamentation" follows, complete with what sounds like a Spanish guitar, more of those tribal chant samples, more Gregorian chant, and so forth. The female vocal isn't credited, but it sounds like Kristy Thirsk again. It's a good track, but nothing particularly wonderful.
The honor of being described as "particularly wonderful" is reserved for "Euphoria (Firefly)". Of course, it has a head start, since any track featuring Jacqui Hunt's voice is automatically wonderful, but the interleaving of her voice, lots of tribal samples, and so on, earn it a "particularly". The track's got a strong Single Gun Theory feel to it, which came as a bit of a surprise. True, the Hunt voice is a major ingredient of the SGT sound, but the rhythm track also has an SGT feel. This track was (deservedly, I feel) the first single from the album, and was released at roughly the same time as the album, back in April.
"Remembrance" features another Dead Can Dance sample, and were it not for the Gregorian chant, dance beat, and rich string synth sweeps, it wouldn't have been horribly out of place on Syrophenikan, Delerium's most tribal/rhythmic album (and still my personal favorite after all these years). It's an excellent track that highlights the fact that, despite many of the bad things that are said about them, Leeb and Fulber still have the capability to occasionally produce some wonderful pieces of music.
This is also illustrated by "Wisdom", another Thirsk track. I have to say that even though the Jacqui Hunt track is great, this is my favorite track on the album. Yes, it's the most obvious pop song on the disc, but it's gorgeous. It's very interesting to hear familiar Leeb/Fulber ingredients (that's a typical Leeb bass line, for example) in this setting, and they work well.
This is followed by "Koran" which is, it must be said, long, instrumental and rather dull, even if it's back in more familiar Delerium territory. It has an air of filler about it, as well as one of familiarity. It's Delerium by numbers.
The final track, "Til The End Of Time" (interestingly, not a million miles away from the title of McLachlan's outing with Manufacture), is another Thirsk co-composition. It's...well, it's OK but nothing special.
Overall, I'd rate Karma a little higher than Semantic Spaces, but not by far. It doesn't seem to have matched the success of its predecessor, which almost managed to break through into the mainstream charts. The use of a number of vocalists, all of whom have co-composed their tracks, gives the album a little more variety - eleven tracks of the instrumental stuff here would get boring very quickly. The basic ingredients are unchanged, however, so this will almost certainly appeal to those who liked Semantic Spaces, or fans of the whole Enigma/Deep Forest genre. The high points of the album are definitely "Wisdom" and "Euphoria", but the rest of the tracks are decent enough too.
1997. © Al Crawford
This increasingly well known side project from Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber is really a main project these days. The mix of popular styles will create comparisons to Enigma, Deep Forest and others, yet there are moments of real originality on this recording as well. Leeb and Fulber deftly use vocals and lyrics to colour, not dominate, their songs. The results can be memorable, even if not groundbreaking, tapestries that really have some nifty qualities to them.
2002. Bradford Warner / SoundDesign
I like that song Silence (airscape remix edit)
2002. Darlena / USA
This cd is like send from heaven above! I do like every track, my fav. are Enchanted, Silence, Euphoria, WISDOM, till the end of time. These songs really have the ability to make me cry they are so .... can't find the words. if I would belive in good, I would say he made it himself :-)))
I also recommend you to listen into the Ray of Light album from Madonna, its one of the best pop cd´s ever, thanks to William Orbit!! its so sad that Madonna doesn't work anymore with William...
2003. Daniel / Austria
Needs more Kristy Thirsk. There's nothing special about the beats and instrumentals. The female vocalists "make" it special.
Jacqui Hunt, Kristy Thirsk, Sarah McLachlan and Camille Henderson.
2003. junkstyle / USA