Delerium Albums Ranked by phantom1305 (2020)
- Chart updated: 01/25/2020 06:45
- (Created: 01/25/2020 06:12).
- Chart size: 14 albums.
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Hiding 'neath my fright
Manipulate my sight
Whenever you steal
My punishment's real
You gave me sorrow"
Karma has been an album I've consistently returned to. It took me a while to fully warm up to it, but its unique blend of world, electronics, and witty songwriting drew me in.
The album's opening chant Enchanted feels like a journey into an uncertain new world. The feeling of unease is heightened by Kristy Thirsk's lyrics as seems to roleplay someone otherworldly, equal parts sympathetic and terrifying.
Duende does little to drop the sense of unease and on first listen sounds like a song written completely in madness. This is a great example of a song you need to slow down to appreciate as once you can make out the unsettling way the lyrics hide within the instrumentation you'll never look at this song the same.
"Like an angel you'll come In a dream, precious one (And) Make me beautifully numb
Desperate panicked calls (The wind can't hear me)
Muffled weak and small (The sand can't hear me)
Pleading, groping hands (The truth can't hear me)"
Truly, if you don't slow down to appreciate this song you'll never hear her. The singer is trapped (perhaps within her own mind or as a ghost) and nobody can understand her, not even you listening to the song.
Twilight is a worldbeat transitional track that effortlessly blends Duende to the next track Silence, Delerium's biggest hit. It's strange, for an album that some may consider too commercialized for its Sarah McLachlan feature on Silence, Karma knows when to hold back. Its transitional moments like Twilight add a welcomed contrast to songs like Silence or Euphoria. This ability to hold back for me is something that helps even Delerium's most pop-centered albums stand out from your typical pop album.
Silence is the band's biggest hit and honestly, it's not hard for me to see why. In 6 minutes the song captures everything I love about Delerium. Gregorian religious chanting opens the song, instantly set the mood. Sarah McLachlan was brought in to sing the lyrics. I don't know how, but I can't imagine anyone else nailing the part as well as she does in the studio. This song's poetic imagery encaptures the feeling of entrapment (perhaps through addiction) equal parts hopeless but desperate for a solution.
Chokes the flower
Until she cries no more
Possessing all the beauty
Hungry still for more"
The song contrasts these feelings by speaking about the wonders of Heaven and a white light in which the singer is free. It's possible this song suggests suicide, but I prefer to think about Heaven and the white light as more of a metaphor for the unknown. Somewhere out there Heaven exists, past the addiction and the struggles of the present. This gives the song a feeling of hope and comfort in knowing that we don't know what's in our future so it's important to keep moving forward.
I adore the following track, Forgotten Worlds and how it opens with church bells. If there was ever an album that feels truly empty and hopeless then Karma perfectly captures it. If Silence was a song about the longing for death then the intro of Forgotten Worlds works to remind of our own mortality and of the spiritual realm. Peace has been found but at the price of silence.
I don't believe Karma is a concept album that aims to tell this continuous story, but it fascinates me how well the themes of each song appear to play off the next and how complete the work feels as a whole.
Lamination flows effortlessly from Forgotten Worlds with a melancholy flute, followed by further chanting. This song, in particular, reminds me of Spiritual Archives, a much earlier album of Delerium's that perfectly seemed to capture the feeling of traveling trough abandoned ruins. For this moment, we're instantly brought back to this atmosphere, but as the song picks up pace & Kristy's voice can be heard, we're seamlessly transitioned back into a track that fits perfectly on either Karma or Semantic Spaces.
The transition from here to Euphoria works but admittedly feels somewhat abrupt. Euphoria can be read as a love song, but it's also a song of passion & hope, perfectly fitting its title.
"I never want to lose what I have finally found
There's a requiem, a new congregation
And it's telling me go forward and walk under a brighter sky
Every nerve glowing like a firefly
Every nerve like a firefly
Every nerve like a firefly glowing"
It's probably my least favorite song on the album to listen back to on its own, but I enjoy its placement. It's a much-needed breakup between Lamination & Remembrance which helps feed the atmosphere.
I should mention too (for those of you especially particular in how they enjoy their music) that the best version of Karma was the first edition which is harder to find, but worth the extra investment as it contains the ten-minute track Koran which helps to unify the album. Issues with distribution forced the band to replace the song with another track called Window to Your Soul. Window to Your Soul isn't a bad song, but after hearing the album in full with Koran instead, I really feel it was meant to help tie the album together. [First added to this chart: 01/25/2020]
Karma leaned a lot more heavily towards the pop sound than its predecessor Semantic Spaces and seemed to promise the band would go further in this direction. Poem was the perfect follow-up, taking the electronic pop sound further and beginning to distance itself from influences such as Enigma or their other band Front Line Assembly; Delerium found its distinct identity. I love listening to Semantic Spaces, Karma, and Poem all in order because within these three albums you really hear the careful transition from ambient to pop, bridging the gap between two entirely different genres of music and somehow connecting their old sound to their newer sound.
I've got to give Delerium a lot of thanks. I came into the band quickly falling in love with Poem, Chimera, and parts of Karma, which gradually lead me backward through their discography to where I even have a fondness for their albums such as Syrophenikan, an entirely ambient and noise album that I probably would have otherwise given up on pretty quickly.
This goes beyond Delerium's discography. Once your mind is open to a new sound you find a greater appreciation for artists in that genre, which is something really powerful. I'm not sure if this was Delerium's intention, perhaps it was accidental, but they really did something amazing here that I'm not sure a lot of artists would be brave enough to touch.
Yes, Karma is the superior album in my opinion because it does the best job on its own of combining the many worlds of Delerium, but I recommend you start with either Poem or Semantic Spaces before moving onto Karma then to whichever of the three you haven't heard yet.
The opening track, Terra Firma is all that's needed to connect the band's sound in Poem to the latter half of Karma, sounding like it belongs off the tail-end of its predecessor, but also bursting with the energy of a new beginning. The song starts slow then picks up right around the second half with a flute portion and ending instrumentals that effortlessly blend into Innocente (Falling In Love).
Innocente starts off, with Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer singing in a haunting tone.
You can't see my eyes
You can't see my eyes
They don't see yours
Hear me when I say
I don't mind at all
It's a mood she pulls off surprisingly well, not something I expected from Leigh Nash, a collaborator that while smaller than Sarah McLachlan must have still been a big enough name that I wouldn't be surprised if Delerium's label pushed for it. This haunting vocal delivery is incredibly different from Sixpence None The Richer's other material & feels like it may have been written it a style more natural for Sarah McLachlan. This sounds like a collaboration destined to end in disaster, but Leigh Nash owns every word she says with ease making this singing style uniquely her own. The beat picks up.
It's the rain that I hear coming
Not a stranger or a ghost
It's the quiet of a storm approaching
That I fear the most
Like with Flowers Become Screens or Silence, I appreciate the poetic imagery Delerium creates through weather & silence. It creates an unsettling atmosphere which easily resonates with the listener as the pains of heartbreak.
The following track Aria heavily samples from a song by Mediæval Bæbes. As the track picks up though it becomes great dance music. The lyrics aren't in English, but the upbeat tempo is something I can easily see resonating with English speakers far easier than much of Karma would. [First added to this chart: 01/25/2020]
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The pop elements that returned in Karma are still clearly present, but since this was a new direction for the band, it's kept relatively toned down. For that reason, the band's world and ambient sounds are more pronounced than in later albums. I feel many will prefer Semantic Spaces to Karma, especially if they found Karma felt too commercialized from its over-reliance on traditional pop and multiple guest vocalists.
My biggest problem with Semantic Spaces is that I find it inconsistent. Tracks don't flow as well as Karma does. While the album's high points such as Resurrection, have brought my mind to higher, more imaginative words than Karma has, its occasional low points with tracks that really don't seem to fit the album sort of distract after enough listens and make this album less cohesive overall. These issues are relatively minor as I still consider this some of Delerium's best. Delerium's follow up album Karma cleared this problem up, but might have lost some of Delerium's creative edge found in Semantic Spaces. [First added to this chart: 01/25/2020]
When you buy this album, the album book talks about each song in more depth, which I find surprising. To my knowledge, this isn't something Delerium has done before or since. But for me, knowing the inspiration and understanding the lyrics better really added to my enjoyment. Before finding that however, this album took longer to grow on me than Karma, Semantic Spaces, Poem, or even Chimera. I think the songs are better written than Chimera's, but I'm not confident this album will hook you as easily, aside from one or two songs. [First added to this chart: 01/25/2020]
The tracks on Music Box Opera are perhaps Delerium at their most polished. Every time I listen to this album I find myself captivated by Delerium's expert craftsmanship.
However, the album falls apart in its second half, particularly regarding tracks 8 - 11. Had the album gone from "Sky" to its final track "Music Box Opera", I'd consider it easily on par with Delerium's best works. But as it is, these 4 tracks come off as needless padding that holds back an otherwise perfect album. [First added to this chart: 01/25/2020]
Morphology is up there as one of my favorite Delerium tracks. Its introduction always stood out in my mind as somewhat symbolic of Delerium's everchanging nature & the feeling of embracing change. This song is layered many instrumental changes, so different from the albums before it (Baring part one of Spheres), but eager to throw everything Delerium has practiced to this point at the wall to see what sticks. And when the beat gets going, it hits hard.
TransHumanist is another favorite of mine, though this second part of Spheres is relentless. It brings hit after hit & despite being part two of perhaps Delerium's largest venture, I'm honestly left wanting more.
On one end I'm satisfied that Delerium changed their sound when they did. I'm not sure where else they could have gone from here while still providing instrumental albums in the way they did. But Spheres I & II feels like a clear finally for this era of the band. I'm thrilled it ended on a high note. [First added to this chart: 01/25/2020]
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