In any dynamic duo, one wonders if the majesty
of the musical creation is based on dynamic interplay between
the two members, or does one carry the other. For example, consider
the first two post-Uncle Tupelo albums from Wilco and Son Volt.
Listen to 1995's stunning Son Volt debut Trace,
and compare it to Wilco's far weaker debut, A.M..
Listening to those 2 albums, i would guess that Jay Farrar was
carrying Uncle Tupelo. However, as we all know Son Volt never
again reached those heights, while Wilco only improved.
By now some of you are thinking, "How does the travails of
two alt-country-ish bands figure in the review of two new agey
dance acts?" There is a close parrallel. Delerium, at one time,
consisted of both Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber. However, Fulber
left to make music as Conjure 1, while Leeb retained the Delerium
name. And, much like the immediate post-Tupelo albums, one shines
and one is better ignored.
Oddly enough, it is Bil Leeb's Delerium who dropped the ball.
Even with help from Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLaughlin, and The
Medioeval Boebes, this disc is just boring. It is your sterotypical
new age beat driven music. It is the kind of stuff played in
the tea shoppe in a thousand new age bookstores across this
country. It is utterly and completely unremarkable. Which is
a shame, because for a few years there, Delerium ruled this
So from this perspective, it looks as if Rhys Fulber was carrying
the group. In fact, i would go so far as to say that his debut
as Conjure 1 is the best release in this genre that i have heard
in a few years.
Fulber, of course, has some guest stars as well, and he uses
them pretty effectively. Poe sings lead on the excellent Center
of the Sun. This is a nice fuzzy mess of strings, Poe's
layered voice, and thwicking beats. She also makes the mellow
piano and bass number Make a Wish work. Her voice, subtly
layered over the music, really makes this song soar.
And of course, what new age dance album would be complete without
Middle Eastern style vocals? Fulber uses these to great effect
on Redemption (which almost sounds like a more uptempo
take on the sound Dead Can Dance explored on Into the
Labrynth) and Years, which also bears the distinction
of being the only real male-vocaled track on the album.
There is one downer on the disc: Tears from the Moon
is a slow, boring, genre-typical work that squanders the vocal
talents of Sinead O'Connor. It's not a bad song per se, just
unremarkable, especially considering that you just KNOW that
a collaboration between Fulber and O'Connor should be very interesting.
Alas, maybe next time...
So, overall, i have to say that it looks like Fulber is the
more noteworthy half of the Delerium duo right now. Perhaps
Leeb will try to break free of genre restraints just a teensy
bit next time, and give Fulber a run for his money!