Rhys Fulber can certainy make music. A distinguished career, most famously as half of Delirium (with Bill Leeb), has honed his production savvy, and this solo project shows off the verve he possesses for crafting soundscapes. Far from being a mere offshoot of Fulber’s collaborative work, though, this album steps away from the brooding Gregorian chants and forested Enigma-esque overtones of Delirium in favour of more epic washes of ethereal music. Middle eastern influences abound. There are some downright poppy moments, and tracks are framed by live instrumentation and strings — factors that contribute to the warmth and accessibility of this release.
Fulber is not alone. Everyone’s favorite co-producer, Junkie XL, drops in for a number of tracks. Chris Elliott plays piano and arranges strings. In fact, each cut here is the result of cowriting, arrangement or production, but the work doesn’t feel cluttered or unfluid as a result. Guest vocals from Poe and Sinead O’Connor are well suited, although it’s Chemda — singer on the haunting opener, “Damacsus,” and two other tracks — who really shines. The vocal parts of these songs are given center stage, which is a wise move, allowing the backing instrumentation room to build a solid mood.
In such a small, specialized field (Conjure One’s only real contemporaries are Delirium, Balligomingo and Enigma), Rhys Fulber has made a valiant effort to reach out into areas of world music, pop and electronica not traditionally employed in the creation of albums like this. This release should be commended for the barriers it pushes, even if it doesn’t break them. It might not leave you breathless after every song, but it’s a beautiful collection nonetheless.
Nettwerk America Records: http://www.nettwerkamerica.com