Delerium
Karma


4.5
superb

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
August 12th, 2008 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The BEST electronica / new age album of 1997.

Oddly enough, the more successful of Bill Leeb's musical output has come not from his main band, industrial inclined Front Line Assembly. No, Delerium certainly takes top honours here, though perhaps for good reason. Originally an obscure side project formed for Leeb's ambient indulgences in 1987, Delerium has grown to be much more over the last fifteen years. While not completely abandoning the dark ambience of their early material, the duo has adopted a more light-hearted, pop sound; an artistic evolution that made Delerium a much more accessible endeavour without sacrificing their alluring characteristics.

Collaborating with Front Line Assembly keyboardist, Rhys Fulber, Leeb began experimenting with such changes on 1994's Semantic Spaces. It paid immediate dividends; the record became a minor hit, as"Flowers Became Screens" and "Incantations" hit the top-40 on Canadian airwaves. With Karma, Delerium's follow up to Semantic Spaces, the band takes the latter's formula a step farther. In addition to the returning Kristy Thirsk, who sang on three of Semantic Spaces' tracks, Karma finds Delerium working with Sarah McLachlan, who sings on megahit "Silence", Camille Henderson, who sings on "Duende", and Jacqui Hunt, who sings on "Euphoria (Firefly)". As result of the increased vocal collaborations, the record features more in the way of danceable pop tracks, though not nearly to the same extent as Chimera. It is these songs that leave the greatest first impression, with "Silence" and "Duende" leading the way. The ethereal vocal talents of McLachlan and Henderson provide for some of the most sonically pleasing elements on the album, not solely due to their mesmerizing qualities, but also in the way they compliment the airy electronics. "Enchanted" places Delerium's worldbeat influences at the forefront, with tribal drums, flutes, and a child's chanting opening the first two minutes of the song before making the transition to a more commercialized electronica cut dominated by Thirsk's soft coos. A perfect representation of the album as a whole, the song never meanders, nor tires despite being one of Karma's songs at over eight minutes.

But where Karma shines the most is in its instrumental tracks. The more experimental of Delerium's post-Semantic Spaces works, the duo forgoes the some of the commercial elements in favour of a more exotic ambience and trance. "Remembrance" is the strongest track in this regard, and to date remains the band's magnum opus. Arabic melodies kick things off rather slowly and serenely before relaying to Gregorian chanting and African flutes. A staple in "Remembrance", the chanting is also featured on "Silence", "Lamentation", and very briefly in "Window to Your Soul". Yet rather than becoming a gimmicky addition to Delerium's sound, the chants are used tastefully and instead give the song a mystical flair. Underneath the Gregorian choir, the band utilizes a layer of strings and keys to produce enthralling, spacey textures that make the song such an engaging and relaxing listen. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have "Lamentation". While containing a similar trance inducing, beat-heavy structure, the electronic elements are much less pronounced, giving way to sparse flamenco guitar and Persian harmonies. And though it isn't quite as memorable as "Remembrance" or even "Forgotten Worlds", "Lamentation" maintains an absorbing vibe which more than makes up for its lack of catchiness.

In the end, one of Karma's greatest strengths is its cohesiveness. Semantic Spaces was undoubtedly a good album, but it flowed poorly and was no where near as engaging as it should have been. Karma not only corrects said setbacks, but also better flushes out Delerium's sound. That it effectively bridges the dance-pop of Poem or Chimera with the rich ambience of Faces, Forms, and Illusions flawlessly makes it Delerium's strongest record to date. Factor in the additional worldbeat leanings, really, what's not to like? Karma is simply essential electronica that is as fascinating as it is entertaining.



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user ratings (30)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Myrrhman
August 13th 2008


83 Comments


mike knows his electronica from '97

taylormemer
August 13th 2008


4917 Comments


lol at the summary. Where's the hip-hop part?

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 13th 2008


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

there

Digging: Grimes - Visions

rasputin
August 13th 2008


14551 Comments


Posinator

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 13th 2008


3775 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Epic album, so so cool.

Digging: The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends

Willie
Moderator
August 13th 2008


16073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. 'Wisdom' is one of my favorite songs of all time.

Dayvan Cowboy
August 13th 2008


63 Comments


Good......but Enigma's first 2 albums were better

sonic2
August 13th 2008


32 Comments


I haven't heard any electronica and I doubt I'd like it.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 13th 2008


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Your loss

Good......but Enigma's first 2 albums were better
Alright, I guess I'll have to hear those then.

brandtweathers
August 19th 2008


2007 Comments


mike's staff!!!!!!!!!!!
hooray!
On behalf of the MFSFC (mike for staff fan club), congrats

Iai
Emeritus
August 19th 2008


3553 Comments


So this is better than Portishead, Bjork, Biosphere, The Chemical Brothers, squarepusher, Mouse on Mars, Daft Punk, Amon Tobin, The Prodigy, and Roni Size?

aka welcome to staff bro

Zebra
Moderator
August 19th 2008


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a strong album but nowhere near the best of '97. I actually prefer "Semantic Spaces."

Willie
Moderator
August 19th 2008


16073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So this is better than Portishead, Bjork, Biosphere, The Chemical Brothers,
squarepusher, Mouse on Mars, Daft Punk, Amon Tobin, The Prodigy, and Roni Size?
This is pretty good, but it would be highly debatable whether or not it's
better then anything you listed there.

Congrats on Staff, it took them too damn long ;)This Message Edited On 08.19.08

Altmer
August 19th 2008


5652 Comments


I have heard that Sarah McLachlan track, it's pretty sweet.

Especially considering I like Sarah McLachlan, but have no idea about this.

I might have to check this out.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 19th 2008


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a strong album but nowhere near the best of '97. I actually prefer "Semantic Spaces."
I didn't really like Semantic Spaces. I mean it's good, but it never really clicked with me.

AggravatedYeti
August 20th 2008


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album, but it's not a 4.5. Damn good tho.

haha I just read this way after the fact -- totally a 4.5 now. :D

Willie
Moderator
August 20th 2008


16073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this one and Semantic Spaces about equally, but I have to admit to liking Chimera and Poem more.

Wizard
October 14th 2008


19556 Comments


So this is better than Portishead, Bjork, Biosphere, The Chemical Brothers, squarepusher, Mouse on Mars, Daft Punk, Amon Tobin, The Prodigy, and Roni Size?

Ummmmmmmmm yes. Good review Mikesn.

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

Captain North
December 18th 2008


6791 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've only heard this and Poem. Great chilling albums. Also pretty good to write to because they don't really influence, just etheral background noise.

Typhoner
November 17th 2012


881 Comments


"Remembrance" is just awesome

Digging: Shinichi Atobe - Butterfly Effect



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