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Delerium are slipping...
on 19 November 2006
I had high hopes for this. Advance buzz promised a back to basics approach and a shift away from the pop-oriented style of 'Chimera' and back to the lush atmospherics of Delerium's most popular album 'Karma'. And certainly it is a move back to the style of that album, but alas not the quality. I heard a promotional version of 'Nuages Du Monde' a couple of months before it was released and, having been left profoundly underwhelmed by it, I was hoping that what I had was merely an unfinished demo recording. Sadly it wasnt.
The entire album has an unfinished, rushed feel to it. Many of the tracks meander and lack the structure, style and finesse we've come to expect from Rhys and Fulber. There's a very generic, half-baked feel to much of this, with abrupt and jarring chord changes and many tracks ending so abruptly that it starts to get ridiculous. Sadly, the pacing and quality is wildly uneven and I generally have to skip the first five tracks. Five tracks!! 'Angelicus' is a meandering plod which totally overuses the operatic vocals, while the first few seconds alone of 'Extollere' (a lame, bitsy remake of the far superior 'Aria') are enough to annoy me. Zoe Johnston gives a vocal performance in 'The Way You Wanted it to Be' that makes her sound melancholic to the point of suicide. I hope that some of the proceeds of this album go toward getting her some prozac. Even the excellent Kristy Thirsk (whose songs beautiful vocals are normally the highlight of any Delerium album) disappoints, delivering her weakest Delerium song ever. She actually sounds like Britney Spears during the chorus line.
Fortunately, things improve with the stunning and cinematic instrumental 'Tectonic Shift' (I REALLY wish we'd had more like this!), the atmospheric delight that is 'Lumenis', while the best vocal track on offer is 'Fleeting Instant' and the oddly-named but excellent Medieval Baebes track 'Sister Soujourn Ghost' also impresses. Sadly, these four excellent tracks are not enough to make up for the other eight which range from middling to downright poor. And you have to sit through the disappointing first half of the album to reach them. In short, 'Nuages du Monde' is a disappointment.
We all know that Leeb and Fulber have talent, but it's as though their hearts arent in this any more. This is a rushed and unpolished mess that sorely lacks depth and artistic vision. Delerium has become a paint-by-numbers affair which is a great shame. I can only hope that the next offering will have a little more inspiration to it. In the meantime, I'd be tempted to give this a miss and would recommend either Conjure One's last outing 'Extraordinary Ways' or the new Enigma album 'A Posteriori', both of which are everything that this ain't: ie, good.