Delerium – Epiphany
03. After All
04. Terra Firma
07. The Way You Want It To Be
09. Flowers Become Screens
11. Incantation (encore)
12. Forgotten Worlds (credit roll)
Bill Leeb has had an exhausting, yet productive year. He released Improvised Electronic Devices with his Front Line Assembly project, an acoustic album with Delerium, and apparently he’s also just about finished with Delerium’s next full-length album. As if that wasn’t enough, he also managed to get a live DVD released of Delerium’s 2008 performance at Nightclub 9:30 in Washington D.C. with additional footage from Atlanta, West Palm Beach and Montreal. For those that are unfamiliar with Delerium and their music, a live performance might not sound like that big of an undertaking, but it certainly is. Thankfully, despite a few hiccups, Epiphany is an enjoyable experience that is punctuated by stunning visuals and a great clear sound.
Let’s be honest, Delerium’s music is not exactly built for a live setting. The band’s combination of world music, smooth new age and electronic pop is great for chilling out to, but watching stationary musicians for ninety-five minutes would be a tedious prospect. Fortunately, someone else was thinking the same thing and they incorporated a lot of great visual elements into the DVD’s presentation. The most noticeable element of the visual presentation is that the entire thing seems to be bathed in deep blues and dark hues that create the perfect ambient setting. This overwhelming wave of colors is augmented by a screen that is placed center stage that is constantly projecting various bits of video during every song. The whole thing is brought together in the DVD by layering the different effects and colors over the performance footage under varying levels of opacity in order to create a final product that constantly feels fluid despite the minimal movement of the onstage performers – that’s right, actual live instruments.
On Delerium’s albums, almost everything is done digitally but for the concert Bill Leeb brought in a live drummer and a few guitar players to flesh out the electronics, keyboards and samples that are his focus. The inclusion of these additional players gives the songs a fuller, warmer feeling than the somewhat sterile delivery of the CDs. The sound is also helped by the excellent mix/production found on the DVD itself. Every instrument and every sound is crystal clear and very crisp, and the crowd noise is negligible. This allows the smooth beats, lush synths and light guitar melodies to do their job without any distractions –and that job is to provide the backdrop for the quality female vocalists that Delerium is known for. This time, though, instead of having a multitude of guest vocalists, each song is handled by the tandem of Kristy Thirsk and Leigh Nash. It should go without saying that these are two very capable vocalists, but they’re also the first point of contention on Epiphany.
The problem is simply this: on the albums just about every song contains a different vocalist with their own unique skills and nuances, and on Epiphany Kristy and Leigh are expected to faithfully recreate all of them. The problem isn’t that they can’t handle the load; it’s simply that preference and repetition are going to work in favor of most fans preferring the original song’s vocals over the live version – as I did, most noticeably in “After All.” It’s not really the girls’ fault, but it’s a minor issue regardless. The other “hiccups” on this DVD are more amusing than anything else. It should go without saying that Delerium fans probably aren’t a rowdy bunch, but at one point Kristy asks them to make some noise because they’re going to be on a DVD. After a moment of hesitation there are some cheers and clapping but it sounds very awkward and self-aware. Another moment comes when the two girls can’t remember the exact name of the song they’re about to sing – the song was “The Way You Want It To Be.” Again, these are minor things and are more amusing than anything else.
A lot of people probably never expected that Delerium would put on a proper concert (despite the fact that Bill Leeb tours all of the time for Front Line Assembly), but they finally did and they caught it on film. Epiphany is probably just about everything a fan of Delerium could expect from a live release. The vocals of Kristy Thirsk and Leigh Nash are exceptional, and they wrap each song in their own individual style. The music is also faithfully recreated and benefits from the fuller sound that live instruments can provide. Despite a few amusing hiccups, Epiphany features excellent re-creations of some of Delerium’s most well-known songs presented with a crystal clear production and a visually stimulating staging.