Four years on from Delerium’s disappointing Chimera, long-time collaborators Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber bounce back strong with Nuages Du Monde. For the uninitiated, the two have worked together for over twenty years now, whether in Delerium or their esteemed industrial band Front Line Assembly. And while FLA have shifted from purebred electronica into quasi-electro metal and back again, Delerium have similarly transmuted from world-beat downtempo into pop electronica and back.Edging towards the smooth and meditative constructions that made them famous on 1997’s Karma, “Tectonic Shift” sequences beeps, percussive sound design and soft flute to create a chill vibe. More upbeat with heavily phased cymbals is “Indoctrination,” where Kiran Ahluwalia provides an angelic vocal treatment sung in Punjabi, conjuring odyssean travels through unfamiliar territory. Opener “Angelicus” even combines electonica and opera by way of Isabel Bayrakdarian’s ghost-like wail.
Some songs still lean towards the poppier side of the fence, trading sitars and tabla for modulated synth backdrops and acoustic guitars. However, by eschewing blatant pandering for singles, these numbers are calming, thoughtful and spirited. Zoe Johnston’s powerful line “Every day and night you’re gone / I’ll be missing you / But I’m going to be brave / Waving at you / The way you want it to be” is delivered with soulful care and grace on “The Way You Want It to Be.” Stalwart participant Kristy Thirsk shines particularly against the thick bass synth and ethereal arrangements of “Self-Saboteur.”
Much credit goes to Leeb and Fulber for how tirelessly they’ve championed music driven by production and programming. Here on Nuages Du Monde they’ve managed to curtail some of their previous missteps and emphasize what they do best: texture and meticulous sound design. This is a relaxing set of grooves built for easing jangled nerves.