Enough already! There's nothing wrong with ensuring that hard working musicians like Delerium should get due credit after years toiling away on the underground scene, but at this rate Delerium are at risk (in the mainstream at least) of simply becoming a band best known for mediocre remix compilations rather than the genuine innovators they were.
This latest exercise in milking it by label Nettwerk brings together fourteen tracks from the band's most commercial decade 1994-2004. Thankfully, most are left in their original album mix versions. This means you get treats like Flowers Become Screens, Paris and the instrumental version of Remembrance, plus the landmark Silence. But then you also get Above & Beyond's '21st Century' Remixes of Silence and After All which, by now, would have to be pretty remarkable to bring something new to the mix (if you'll pardon the pun). Of course, they're not at all remarkable, and for every terrific track there's a staggeringly tired 'remix'. The teat is well and truly dry. Please, please give it a rest now. 5/10
Dyer (April 2005)
Understandable if completely unnecessary double DJ remix album for Fulber's most commercial project. The problem with most of this release is that the majority of folk whose services are employed here either don't really understand or care where Delerium is coming from. Thus, their approaches to the remixes is either inappropriate or just plain dull. Take DJ Tiesto's In Search of Sunrise Remix of the ground-breaking Silence. It adds four to the floor percussion and extra high-hats - neither of which is exactly original or works for that matter. Likewise, the increasingly euphoric and thumping versions of Karma, Poem and Sematic Spaces. At least Greg Reely goes for the unpredictable with his dub take on Flowers Become Screens.
Over on disc two, Matt Darey's John Carpenter Fog-like piano motif is the only good addition to an otherwise insipid reworking of Heaven's Earth. Fade's Sanctuary Mix of Silence gently stands out and is the first effort included on this double album that sounds remotely alternative. Mellow and quite effective for it. Less mellow but more alternative still is the Spiritual Collapse Mix of Duende which for the first three minutes is unrecognisable from its source material. The rumbling percussion and deep bass emphasis means this is about the only track on the album worthy and likely to get any attention by the DJs who helped put Fulber where he is now. I don't blame Nettwerk for putting out this blatant exercise in commercial prostitution but for most people reading this (excluding the above-mentioned Duende and Flowers Become Screens) this is probably best ignored. 4/10
Following Delerium's massive chart success in 2000 with the single Silence, Nettwerk have simultaneously released two retrospective double albums plotting out the years 1988-92 and 1993-94 respectively. Prior to signing their Delerium project to Nettwerk in 1994, Vancouver based electronic duo Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber (aka Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, Synaethesia, etc. etc. etc.) recorded almost an album a year for seven years for a variety of independent labels in Germany and the US. With the rights to these albums having now reverted back to the band, the compilation of two 'best of' collections could go ahead.
For those who only came to Delerium via their Silence single, these extensive peeks into their back catalogue highlighting their prolific output across seven albums, is likely to come both as something as a shock and also somewhat daunting. To be honest, those dance music fans who took to the Silence single so much, who loved the sweet tones of Sarah McLachlan's voice, would probably find most of these tracks hard work. So although I'm sure Nettwerk will be hoping that they'll shift a good few copies of these Archives to the same Ibiza crowd who snapped up Silence by the bucket load, these albums better serve their longer standing fans or those open to the celluloid inspired sonic landscapes and tribal music paths of this earlier material.
Archives Vol.1 contains 21 tracks, drawn from Faces, Forms and Illusions (1988), Morpheus (1989) - disc one, Syrophenikan (1991) and Stone Tower (1992) - disc two. The first five tracks from Faces, Forms and Illusions are light beat ambient pieces with plenty of flutes and chants but without the more commercial Enya-esque treatments of much later Delerium material. The seven Morpheus tracks introduce the darker, incidental film music ambience that Delerium accomplish so well. Disc two begins with another five tracks, this time from 1991's Syrophenikan. This follows on naturally from its dark predecessor but the artificial strings on Embodying undermine the mood.
The global drums of Shroud are the first to really indicate a significant future path that Delerium would explore in detail. Perhaps surprisingly, given its title, Of the Tribe is more electronic but blends various, seemingly disparate, elements quite cleverly. The four tracks taken from Stone Tower that close disc two and the first volume begin to lengthen the running times beyond the (up until now) average five minute mark. Again, setting out the framework for much of what was to follow - even more epic intentions and execution. However, both Bleeding (7:59) and Tundra (8:55) sound over-stretched, flabby and slightly indulgent compared to the earlier works featured in this first volume.
Archives Vol.2 has 15 tracks, taken from Spiritual Archives (1993), Spheres (1994) and Spheres II (1994). It also has the previously unreleased track Infra Stellar from 1998's Cryogenic Studio album. The four songs from Spiritual Archives, Drama, Aftermath, Ephemeral Passage and Awakenings were all jointly mixed by Chris Peterson with whom Delerium's Rhys Fulber collaborated on the Will project. And you can tell. Although the underlying, doom-laden male voices, crashing percussion and looping sequencer lines never come close to the traumatic excesses of the two Will albums, there nevertheless remain several passages that wouldn't sound out of place in the soundtrack to John Boorman's Excalibur. By the end of the fourth track we've morphed into more overtly electronic film soundscapes. Perfectly setting us up for some of Delerium's finest material.
1994's Sphere has always been a favourite of mine. The four excerpts here come from Monolith, Colony, Dark Matter and Cloud Barrier. Sphere is basically Delerium's alternate soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey and as heinous a crime as that might sound it is incredibly successful. Gone by now are the world music influences, this is full-on electronica and terrific stuff it is too. This sets us up quite nicely for disc two's six (!) tracks from Spheres II. This leaves little space left and so we have just one fine outtake Infra Stellar from Cryogenic Studio.
These two collections are well-packaged, carefully compiled and a perfect overview of Delerium's output from 1988 to 1994. Some material struggles and is hampered slightly by age, but most stands up remarkably well; and it is actually the older works that have weathered the best. Recommended to newcomers and enthusiasts alike. Vol.1 - 7/10 and Vol.2 6/10
A decade on, this 1997 album remains the pinnacle of Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber's non-industrial/electro work. It is also perhaps the definitive Delerium album - a project that has evolved from soundtrack origins to mainstream chart success. Silence is the standout single from this release, and having sold in excess of 300,000 copies in the UK alone (largely into the dance music scene following its breakthrough on the dance club circuit), which saw it appear high in the official UK chart, it is still the Delerium song that most people will recognise.
This landmark album flows like warm honey. It is sweet, almost syrupy, and is seriously sticky - since it has you coming back for more again and again. I never tire of listening to this lilting suite of world music-influenced, ambient, trip beat electronica. Its success was in appealing to a much wider dance audience than previous Delerium releases (which were only ever aimed at a niche crowd) without pissing off the hardcore fans who had been introduced to Leeb and Fulber via their major industrial project Front Line Assembly.
Karma was one of the earliest and most successful examples of how far you could carry the alternative audience with you. The imaginative if unlikely blending of Gregorian chants with the sensibilities of dance music would be audacious at best, plain stupid at worst, if it weren't so utterly convincing. Responding to the major success of the album, Leeb and Fulber (one suspects heavily encouraged by their Canadian independent label Nettwerk, who hitherto had been selling industrial and electronic music to industrial and electronic music fans only) have attempted to repeat the success ever since with far less essential (and ever more commercial sounding) follow-up releases: Poem (2000), Chimera (2003) and Nuages du Monde (2006). In contrast, more than ten years after its original release, Karma remains a uniquely compelling experiment. One that not only paid off handsomely, but has lost none of its ability to excite and reward time after time. 9/10
Rob Dyer (December 2008)