Conjure One :: Conjure One
If you're one of those people who listened to Enigma on the down low (i.e., when your friends weren't around), then this could be the album for you. Five years in the making, Conjure One has made it ok to listen to ambient ethno-pop again.
Flashback to the year 2000: the haunting "Silence" is all over the airwaves and in clubs, helped in no small amount by the vocals of Sarah McLachlan and DJ Tiesto's epic "In Search of Sunrise Mix." Fans of the song could almost be forgiven for assuming that the duo behind the track, Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb (collectively: Delerium), were one-hit wonders. Most people were oblivious of the fact that these are two of the most sought after and prolific producers in electronic music, having spearheaded the pioneering industrial band Front Line Assembly and by releasing numerous albums under the Delerium moniker. Way before the mass public had even heard of their global chart topping smash, Fulber and Leeb already had a loyal, almost cult-like following, especially in their hometown of Vancouver.
Cut to 2003: the Conjure One album (Fulber's solo effort) precedes the latest Delerium release Chimera by a few months and the results couldn't be further apart. While Chimera is almost unlistenable, Conjure One is logically where Delerium should have headed after 1997's Karma instead of veering in the cheesy guitar-pop direction.
Israeli singer Chemda blesses us with her exceptional voice on no less than four tracks. No idea what she's on about, but it sounds great and fits in with Fulber's moody atmospherics perfectly. The two most obvious radio-friendly tracks are "Center of the Sun" [featured on the latest X-Men instalment] and "Tears of the Moon." The latter features electronica's latest and recently-retired muse Sinead O'Connor. Much like her guest appearances on Massive Attack's 100th Window and ADF's Enemy of the Enemy her inclusion is the highlight of an already impressive 65 minutes (55 if you don't cop the version with the bonus tracks, but I highly recommend that you do). "Manic Star" follows Delerium's tradition of mixing dance rhythms, Eastern melodies and female vocals. Fulber is definitely playing it safe on most of this album but why turn your back on a successful formula? Actually the tight production duties on this release far exceed most of the electronic releases we come across. "Sleep (Serenity Mix)" takes the listener on a pretty melancholic trip-hop journey with phat beats. I was bobbing my head to this long after it was over.