The third album from previous Front Line Assembly collaborator Bill Leeb under the moniker of Delerium has come to us in the latter part of November, 2000. Poem is a wondrous collection of music containing facets of classical composition, acoustic melodies and, at times, a near-trance soundscape style. Bringing into the studio with him a number of help this time around, Delerium builds on its ethereal past to add an element of more acoustic string influences.
For fans of FLA and those not initiated with the work of the Delerium name, I must caution you. If you are expecting the industrial stance that FLA have become known for, then you best look elsewhere. There's plenty of that around now - oh believe me, I get more than my share. But if you want to see a new direction taken by Mr. Leeb, then Delerium might at least tantalize you with its vision. Delerium is reminiscent of work by This Ascension, My Scarlet Life, The Changelings - classical arrangements surrounded by an ethereal collection of acoustic instruments, Gregorian vocals and smooth rhythms. You don't stomp to Delerium, so if that turns off the FLA purists so be it.
Leeb has brought in many more to help him with the creation of Poem. From appearances by Mathew Sweet to the Mediaeval Baebes, Sixpence None the Richer's Leigh Nash and Kirsty Hawkshaw. Favorites upon Poem that I find myself returning to and, in some cases repeating, include the opening Terra Firma which features Aude, and opens with a trance-inducing Gregorian swirl awash with sitar play and a wonderful rhythm. Also an amazing track with vocals lent by Mathew Sweet is Daylight, a windy and ominous movement with highlighted organ and chanting vocals. The rhythm is a non-fit for the track, breathing in a new life and taking it in directions that you wouldn't expect given the slow and moody opening. The keyboard melodies that brings us to Sweet's vocals are well arranged. Sweet's just-under-the-rhythm vocals are beautiful and the latter harmonies is some of the finer examples of multi-vocal arrangements I have ever heard.
The beauty behind Delerium's Poem is similarly what I had found on the latest release by This Ascension. And that is that all instruments, lines, acoustic and keyboard melodies and rhythm tracks are balanced against one another so excellently that you won't find any particular line sticking out. Oh sure there are times when certain elements are highlighted and held aloft, but never to a point where it isn't saturated by the other melodies and gets infused into the movement of the surrounding instrumentals. The trance-like bass line of Aria for example will stand out on its own at the outset but find itself being joined with the vocals of UK's Mediaeval Baebes which is further joined by scraping rhythms and emblazoned guitar cuts that strike out then fall back, all becoming a piece of one beauteous moving forward.
One final track to mention, and indeed my favorite throughout the entire Poem release, features the work of Solar Twins' Joanna Stevens. Track 10, A Poem for Byzantium, is smooth, flowing and truly wonderful. It breaks from a trance stance into a folk sound with acoustic guitar and, again, those lovely vocal harmonies during chorus lines. The vocals of Stevens is simply breathtaking and gives me chills. I could play this track forever.
Overall? Delerium's Poem is well worth the wait for those that wanted more since the release of Karma three years back. The music is beautifully arranged and rigidly controlled, highly complicated and throughout holds some of the best vocalists you can find from Joanna Stevens to Mathew Sweet. It is an amazing release and thanks to Nettwerk for putting it out.
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