As the musical zeitgeist slips further into an obsession with easily digestible singles and online statistics, options become increasingly limited for those in search of deep albums. However, Delerium step up with the most intriguing, intricate, and infectious offering to date, Music Box Opera.
It's not just confined to the hipsters or the tastemakers either. With Bill Leeb (creator/brainchild of Delerium, Front Line Assembly and Skinny Puppy) at the helm, the Vancouver electronic outfit - which includes collaborators Rhys Fulber, Jared Slingerland and Jeremy Inkel - fuses ambient and cinematic production with soaring vocals courtesy of a myriad of guests. As a result, this Opera comes to life vividly and vibrantly. While Delerium’s musical style encompasses a broad range - trance, world music, ambient and electronic pop music - the music always highlights a strong female vocalist.
In the past, Delerium has worked with Leigh Nash, Miranda Lee Richards, Butterfly Boucher, Emily Haines (of Metric) and the most commercially successful single, “Silence,” featured Sarah McLachlan.
Appearing on the 1997 breakthrough Karma, “Silence” not only figured prominently in the film Brokedown Palace, but it's also been remixed by the likes of Tiësto. It's considered a landmark for trance and still pipes through clubs globally today.
Originally conceived as a side project of Leeb’s legendary Front Line Assembly in 1987, Delerium has consistently transfixed listeners worldwide with its inimitable blend of sounds. As a member of industrial rock outfits Skinny Puppy and aforementioned Front Line Assembly, Leeb has sold over 3 million units worldwide throughout his career; including over a million albums in North America with Delerium.
“Way back in the day, with Frontline Assembly and Skinny Puppy, we were leaders of the new era of electronic music. We've trademarked ourselves and found ourselves in history. We know what we do and who we are. We're part of the genre in our own way. We'll always have that place in history. The music industry has been changing so much. We have a pretty extensive back catalog,” says Leeb.
It's been six years since the group released their thirteenth full-length album, Nuages du Monde. “Inspiration, timing, and people's lives all factored into that time. We have a lot of music out there. It was good to make this more special by waiting. Everything happens for a reason. I couldn't have planned it this way. Now that it did turn out like this, it's for the best. All of the forces of nature were at work like this to bring new people into my life. Here we are. It's the dawn of a new Delerium album,” continues Leeb. "Music Box Opera is more of an electronic record than a world music record.
It's ethereal, but there's a little bit of pop. We tried to intertwine and merge those two strands. The singers really held this up. The last album was more dark and worldly. Previously, I'd use acoustic guitars and real drummers. We really went electronic here and stuck to that vibe though,” explains Leeb.
That "vibe," as Leeb puts it, proves instantly captivating on "Chrysalis Heart" [Featuring Stephanie Lang]. Recorded in 2011 at the start of the sessions, airtight production bristles with dreamy bliss as Lang's chorus rises to heavenly heights. It's the perfect gateway to the collection as a whole.
He reveals, "It's our take on a pop song. There's a proper chorus and verses. It's structured traditionally, but Delerium's signature sound is in there. Stephanie's lyrics are very meaningful, and her voice has a personal flavor. That was important. Overall, it's entrancing and unique for us."
Elsewhere on the album, "Monarch" [Featuring Nadina] boasts a Middle Eastern flare and more simply transfixing soundscapes from Leeb and Fulber. Nettwerk label mate Nadina hypnotizes with smooth, soulful delivery.
"That was the last thing we worked on," Leeb continues. "The beats are more indicative of our love for The Chemical Brothers and artists in that vein. We looped Middle Eastern instruments, and Nadina was just perfect for the music. She's got an incredible voice, and she's from that part Lebanon so everything fit. This is a good example of the electronic and world music realms coming together. Two different cultures and ideas work in tandem. That's always been an important aspect of Delerium."
Slingerland and Inke also helped enhance the outfit's foundation with new perspectives and fresh ideas. "They both just turned 28-years-old, and they know everything that's happening," affirms Leeb. "They've been so integral to the entire process of balancing all of these elements."
Ultimately, on Music Box Opera, everything cascades in unison for an entire vision that's worth immersing yourself in. "You can play this anywhere and listen to it at any part of the day,” Leeb concludes. “I'd like to enhance surroundings and atmosphere. It's intelligent and mature electronic music with a little edge and something to say. At the end of the day, I’m just doing what comes naturally and being honest."