Image © Nettwerk Productions 2003
(05 July 2003) The Canadian master of female-fronted electronica, Bill Leeb, is
back with his newest bevy of spectacular singers featured on the latest
Delerium album, Chimera (Nettwerk (USA) 0 6700 30306 01, 2003).
According to Greek mythology, the Chimera was a fire-breathing monster
with the head of a lion, body of a goat and tail of a serpent. It
plagued the land until it was killed by Bellerophon who was riding
the winged horse, Pegasus. The word chimera can also mean an
impossible and malleable scheme or fancy. Appropriately, this
mythological and mystical-sounding word captures the metamorphosizing
and haunting quality of this most recent Delerium release.
Once again, Bill Leeb mans the Delerium vessel as producer and
melody-shaper. This time around, one-time Delerium partner Rhys
Fulber--who most recently released his own project entitled Conjure
has returned to produce and program several of the tracks on
Chimera. Carmen Rizzo also features as co-producer and
programmer on the remaining tracks. As with Delerium's previous
album Poem, live drums by Sarah McLachlan's husband
Ashwin Sood, and strings arranged by Jane Scarpentoni are
featured prominently, giving the album an even more organic
Although some die-hard Delerium fans have resented the group's
exploration of world and pop music, it is extremely gratifying
to see Delerium progress and mature with each succeeding album.
Beginning with Semantic Spaces--with its more disembodied, cold
and industrial sound--to the present, each Delerium album has
strived for a more functional song-based content. Chimera
is clearly Delerium's most "proper" pop album to date.
Most of the tracks are standard in length--instead of the 8-plus
minute tracks that used to appear on past Delerium albums--and
contain the more common intro / verse / pre-chorus / chorus /
bridge formula. Despite this move away from the experimental
realm, Delerium's work continues to be fresh and exciting both
lyrically and melodically. In fact, the songs on Chimera
are more wide-ranging in mood and color than any of the songs on
Poem, Karma, or Semantic Spaces. Suffice it to say
that Bill Leeb and company do not disappoint.
Even fans of older Delerium albums will appreciate the two
more epic and soundtrack-flavored pieces, "Serenity" and
"Eternal Odyssey." Both are haunting, amorphous and visionary,
relying less upon a structured vocal line and more upon
intermittent ethnic samples and wails In fact, "Eternal
Odyssey" cleverly weaves the melody from Samuel Barber's
gorgeous "Adagio" within the fabric of steady beats and
spectral electronic touches.
Some of the tracks on Chimera like "Love" featuring the
fabulous voice of Faithless collaborator Zoe Johnston and
"Returning" sung by the sorely-missed original Delerium
voice, angelic Kristy Thirsk are highly pleasing electronic
gems. Others, like the certifiably club-friendly "After All"
featuring Jael of the band "Lunik" and the retro/disco
treat "Truly" featuring Nerina Pallot push the album's
energy up a notch.
Still, others like the spine-tingling "Just a Dream" sung by
the stunning Margaret Far and "Touched" with Rachel
Fuller--and, incidentally, one this reviewer's favorite
track on the album--are more mellow and contemplative in
tone. Most suprising is Delerium's foray into the
jazz/chill/trip-hop realm. "Orbit of Me" sung by
Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer, "Magic" featuring
Twin Peaks diva Julee Cruise, and "Stopwatch Hearts"
sung by Emily Haines are all great songs that incorporate
jazz chord progressions and hip-hop drums.
Although this is an entirely new genre for Delerium, Bill Leeb
and the vocalists pull it off with class and panache. Most
importantly, this triad of songs actually enhance rather than
distrub the flow of the album. Another unique track is "Forever
After" featuring Sultana which combines spoken word/rap
and Arabic/Indian instrumentation to great effect. Finally,
the emotional "Fallen" sung by Rani is a poignant song
about an otherworldly being who loves a human and wishes to
enter the material world.
It should also be noted that the Chimera bonus CD contains
the extra track "Stopwatch Hearts" and a remix of "After All,"
as well as three videos of previous Delerium hits: "Silence,"
"Flowers Become Screens," and "Aria." In total, fans receive
14 new tracks, one remix, and three videos for the price of
one CD--reason enough to be grateful to Bill Leeb and Nettwerk
Records. This reviewer, for one, is most enthusiastic about
Delerium's Chimera, finding it to be a worthy addition to
the group's string of top-notch albums.--Justin Elswick
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
Delerium continues to be one of the leading electronic acts making music today.
Clearly worth a trans-Atlantic journey like their previous material, this album is undoubtedly a must listen!