Music Box Opera by Delerium

Bill Leeb was involved with Skinny Puppy in Vancouver and then created his own project, Front Line Assembly with Michael Balch.  While developing this group, they decided to initiate a side-project that would perform a more ambient, lighter style of electronica.  They called this project Delerium.  After their debut album, Faces, Forms & Illusions in 1989, Balch departed from both projects, and Leeb hooked up with Rhys Fulber releasing more albums under the Delerium name.  Perhaps feeling that their vocal talents were not up to par, they recruited a number of featured singers, mostly female, and some of them big names in the business.  Guest vocalists have included the regular Kristy Thirsk, Sarah McLachlan, The West End Girls’ Camille Henderson (the daughter of Chilliwack frontman Bill), and Metric’s Emily Haines.

In 1994, things picked up when they were signed to Nettwerk Records and 1997’s Karma was their first gold album and contained two of the band’s best known tracks.  “Euphoria” won for the band its first of two JUNO awards.  “Silence”, featuring Sarah McLachlan, regarded by some as one of the best trance recordings of all time, did not become a hit until 2000 after it was remixed.  It topped the charts in Ireland, made it to the Top 5 in Canada and the U.K., and won the JUNO for dance recording of the year.  Poem, another gold album, followed in 2000 and included “Aria” that featured The Mediæval Bæbes.  2003’s Chimera became the outfit’s only JUNO-nominated album.  Until now, Delerium’s last studio album was Nuages du Monde, released in 2006.  It appeared that the project had come to an end.  Not at all; Delerium has returned with its first original studio album in 6 years, Music Box Opera.

The vocalists on this work include Stef Lang (2 tracks), Nadina, Michael Logen, Jael, the ever-reliable Kristy Thirsk, Leona Naess, Anna-Lynne Williams, and Azure Ray.  With a dozen tracks and a run time of well over an hour, you know you’re in for a treat.  You will hear Arabic-style chants interlaced in electronic cascades, intergalactic pop, down tempo lounge beats, ballroom grand pianos, percolating synths, some Indian percussion, ground shaking bass, and sparks of bright amidst a thin sheet of darkness, like dancing glitter on black water.  On all counts, Music Box Opera is a winner.

If it took six years for a music box to transform itself into a grand opera, then it was well worth the wait.