Pretty female voices against a dreamy ambient soundscape. This is what a lot of people associate with the musical act Delerium and this is what Epiphany, their concert DVD, delivers. The band started as an offshoot of Front Line Assembly, an industrial act spearheaded by Bill Leeb. Since its inception in 1987, Delerium's music has involved elements ranging from dark ambient to electronic pop with world music flourishes. Epiphany skews towards the band's later years by focusing on lush and ethereal atmospherics built around the angelic vocals of Kristy Thirsk and Leigh Nash. If Nash's name sounds familiar it's because she is also the lead singer of Sixpence None the Richer. Leigh and Kristy are backed by the rest of Leeb's touring band which includes Sean Ashby (Guitar), Ashwin Sood (Drums) and Brian Minato (Bass).
This release features performances by the band as part of their 2008 Tour. While most of the footage comes from their show at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. a few songs from shows in Atlanta, West Palm Beach and Montreal have also been included. The complete setlist (with associated albums) is as follows:
1. Angelicus (Nuages du Monde)
2. Love (Chimera)
3. After All (Chimera)
4. Terra Firma (Poem)
5. Innocente (Poem)
6. Self-Saboteur (Nuages du Monde)
7. The Way You Want It To Be (Nuages du Monde)
8. Twilight (Karma)
9. Flowers Become Screens (Semantic Spaces)
10. Silence (Karma)
11. Incantation (Semantic Spaces)
12. Forgotten Worlds (Karma)
Looking at the setlist above, one thing should be immediately apparent. This isn't a terribly long concert. Clocking in at a little over an hour, I can imagine folks being a little under whelmed at just what Epiphany has to offer. Even if one were to say that quality trumps quantity (a sentiment I agree with), this release still falls a little short. 3 of the 12 songs are obscured in one way or another which ruins the performance aspect of them. The first track, Angelicus, is actually used as an introduction to the band. While this could work in theory, here the concept is a bit overplayed since we spend an inordinate amount of time watching Kristy and Leigh getting ready for the show. By the same token, the last track is used to display band credits rather than providing the show with a big finish.
In retrospect, neither of those choices bothered me as much as the curious decision to play Twilight over footage of the band's road crew unloading equipment. What should be relegated to the special features shows up smack dab in the middle of the show and kills the momentum that has been built up so far. Not helping matters is the fact that the road crew is shot using a variety of funky filters. Suddenly a poor editing choice has turned into a cheesy overblown visual effect. Unfortunately similar effects are scattered throughout the presentation of the other tracks as well. Aside from the funky filters we get numerous psychedelic visual tricks that threaten with sensory overload. Perhaps this makes me a little strange but I watch concerts for the raw energy of seeing a band making music in a live format. Nasty Byte's production occasionally enhances the visual experience but more often builds a wall between me and the music. Give me the music, not a music video.
This brings me to the music itself. If you're not sure whether you would enjoy Delerium or not, please check out their smash hit Silence (featuring Sarah McLachlan). You've probably heard it before since it was inescapable in the late 90s. If you enjoy that track then most of Epiphany is right up your alley. Kristy and Leigh are both strong singers although I do have a slight preference for Kristy's voice. With her power and range she is better suited to Delerium's epic aural canvases. With that said, Leigh is no slouch. She just has a smaller and more delicate voice which pairs quite well with some of the calmer tracks. Delerium has never shied away from incorporating world music and chants into their arsenal of sound. Terra Firma is a great example of these elements coming together in a cohesive fashion. It's not all incense and chamomile tea however. Self-Saboteur has a melancholy poppy bounce while Flowers Become Screens has a welcome rock crunch to it. Incantation shakes things up with a club thump and some spy guitars.
Altogether this is a fair representation of Delerium in a live setting. Fans can't be blamed for wanting more of a good thing but for now this concert footage should tide them over.
The concert was presented in a 16:9 anamorphic format. While the show was watchable, I had a few issues with the visual presentation. I noticed some jitter in the image and a few minor jaggies in some shots. A few low light scenes showed excessive grain and I caught a bit of moiré as well. With that said, the color reproduction looked pretty good. The stage was often bathed in deep blues which added to a smoky club feel fitting the music.
The audio options included Stereo and 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes. I chose to view the concert with the 5.1 mix. I have to say that this is where the release really shined. The enveloping mix perfectly conveyed the epic sweep of what Delerium had to offer. The surrounds were actively employed and even the subwoofer saw some action on a few of the more aggressive tracks.
There was only one extra feature on this release but it was a good one. The bonus film Delerius (23:00) was a short film by Nasty Byte presented in 4 chapters that could be played together as a single narrative. Through a series of interviews with the entire band we get to learn about their earliest musical memories and inspirations. We also get an inside look at what the fans appreciate about the music and how the band interacts with them.
Delerium have a faithful following who enjoy their brand of ethereal electropop. If you count yourself as one of them, then you'll definitely want to check out the release. However, be warned that the concert may not be as lengthy as you would expect it to be. If you're a casual listener then approach this with the understanding that although the musical component is well done the visual component may be a bit much to swallow. Rent It.