by Gavin Stok May 4 1997
Gregorian chants; Angelic female vocals; Electronic chords and sound effects; Ethnic chant. These are probably the best phrases to explain Karma, Delerium's follow up to their most successful album to date, Semantic Spaces. As with Semantic Spaces, Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber have created an album blending ancient chants with the latest in keyboard technology and sound effects. Furthermore they they have made much greater use of female voices, not only as an instrument by making the likes of Kristy Thirsk (Rose Chronicles), Sarah MacLachlan, and Jacqui Hunt (Single Gun Theory) create sounds with their voices, but by making them write and actually sing songs. Added to this, they have also used Gregorian chants more prominently throughout Karma. These chants were recorded live together with some choir parts used throughout the recording, resulting in a smoother sound where sampling was not required and Delerium had more freedom to do what they wished for.
The extra time and resources made available to Delerium has helped to make Karma a different, yet more rewarding album than Semantic Spaces. It is a slower album with less dance rhythms, yet employs a much greater use of instruments to provide a warmer sound. It also has a strong Eastern flavour, proven by the language used throughout the CD booklet and the origin of a number of chants. Finally, Karma doesn't borrow samples heavily from commercial bands such as Enigma and Deep Forest, but instead uses samples from lesser known bands such as Dead Can Dance, D'Cuckoo and Garbage. For this reason it gives the album more of an identity. Delerium's originality is highlighted in the tracks Silence where they blend Gregorian chant, a choir, electronic chords, and Sarah MacLachlan's voice to provide the most oustanding track on the album, and on Lamentation where the use of a wind instrument provides haunting undertones for the track whcih also contains slow percussion and the use of the female voice as an instrument only. Other stand-out tracks are 'Til the End of Time which sounds the most like a track from Semantic Spaces with its beat, and Enchanted.
Overall Delerium have provided a progression from Semantic Spaces which gives further evidence of their immense talents and promising future. They have created an album which blends old and new to provide an original piece of work which is ultimately a rewarding listening experience.
My thanks go to Nettwerk Records for providing me with this CD for review.
Special thanks go to Adam and Armand for all their assistance, and Bill for keeping Australian slang alive!