Review Summary: Awake from slumber
The project that started as an outlet for Front Line Assembly masterminds Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber to experiment at will with industrial, ambient and new age music, turned out their most commercially viable one over time. Despite morphing considerably throughout its 36 years of existence, you can still trace back bits of the original sounds. The introduction of pop elements with guest vocals on Semantic Spaces
changed Delerium’s perspective and soon 1997’s Karma
became a hit propelled by their most successful single, “Silence”. Since then, the duo have maintained those sonic formulas and polished them as much as possible. Results were satisfying for a while, however, last decade’s output mainly stagnated. The atmospheric instrumentals represent a much-needed counterpart and sequels to what was the initial direction. As they took the backseat on the last few efforts, it felt like things became a bit one dimensioned. Thankfully, Signs
balances things once more.
Musically, there is nothing you haven’t already heard before, Leeb and Fulber choosing to walk further down the path of melodic electronic music, crafting mainly cinematic ambient oriented cuts often with a futuristic sound. The atmosphere is warm and occasionally melancholic. Of all tracks, centerpiece “Esque” seems to display best what the composers were aiming for with Signs
. Lovely piano chords, smooth trip hop beats and breezy synths unfold, complete with embellishing sequenced leads. Also, “Rain” toys with marimba notes over lush ambient pads and looped hums. The resulting tune lies somewhere between Tycho and Moby’s type of instrumentals. Meanwhile, “The Astronomer” comes across as a moodier cut, with pulsing rhythms and sound scapes. The leading, higher pitched synth sounds glorious. I enjoy the wavy structure, avoiding the obvious build up to a grand finale.
As far as the expected collaborations go, Mimi Page’s voice works best with the current playlist. Her soothing falsettos and croons grace album highlights “Falling Back into You” & “Remember Love”. The songs’ arrangements feature several foggy passages where her long notes beautifully sway along. Same goes for “Absolution”, which takes cues from Enya’s trademarks. There is also the straightforward groovy “Coast to Coast”, performed by Phildel, another returning collaborator to Delerium’s catalog. There is an audible Depeche Mode vibe on this track, but it sounds good overall. The duo have remixed “Glimmer” from the Rarities & B-Sides
compilation, adding a misty, late night air to it. Emily Haines sings sweetly and this rework seems at home on Signs
. While the cohesiveness of this LP is much appreciated, you can’t help but think it’s a tad too long for what it offers. It’s unfortunate that stalwarts such as Kristy Thirsk or Jaël are not featured, since their expressive voices usually boasted impressive performances too. It seems here Leeb and Fulber went for singers that complement the instrumentals rather than standing out with a diva-like voice.
The two members have been quite busy lately updating several of their beloved projects. After Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit (and soon Cyberaktif apparently), I am happy Bill and Rhys revived Delerium from its slumber. Seven years after Mythologie
gently picks up the pace and delivers a more memorable and enjoyable journey. Nevertheless, the guys should further shake things up and find new, exotic influences to spice the output.