Chart for stowaways – 15 April 2017

Here’s the latest singles chart, this week brought to you by Depeche Mode

  1. Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution
  2. Goldfrapp – Anymore
  3. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 17)
  4. Depeche Mode – You Move
  5. C Duncan – Wanted to Want It Too
  6. Depeche Mode – Cover Me
  7. Depeche Mode – Going Backwards
  8. Delerium feat. Michael Logen – Days Turn Into Nights
  9. Delerium with Phildel – Ritual
  10. Depeche Mode – Poison Heart

Delerium – Music Box Opera

At the end of 2012, Delerium returned with what is, if you believe Wikipedia, their fourteenth album, the delightfully named Music Box Opera. For an act which once released three albums within one year (Spheres, Spheres 2, and Semantic Spaces in 1994), the six year gap between Nuages du Monde (2006) and their latest release were long and agonising. But they had promised something new and different, and so it was.

The soft reverberating piano chords of Consciousness of Love open the album, followed by a brilliantly gritty vocal from Stef Lang. Not only is it a great opening track, but also a welcome new sound for Delerium, mixing darker, more contemporary sounds with beautiful vocals and the familiar pads of previous albums.

Lead single Monarch follows, actually one of the weaker tracks on the album. Nadina brings a competent – if not entirely intelligible – vocal performance, and many of the ingredients of classic Delerium tracks are there, but somehow it doesn’t quite seem to work as well as it should.

Delerium spend so much of their time collaborating with female vocalists that in many ways it is the songs with male vocals that are the most interesting, and so it is with the second single Days Turn into Nights, featuring Michael Logen. Besides the slightly deeper than normal vocal, this isn’t the most drastic departure from the Delerium of old, but it is one of the strongest songs on the album nonetheless.

The third single Chrysalis Heart follows, again familiar but with some cleverly concealed contemporary influences. This may lack the ingenious “world music” sampling which made some of their early albums so unique, but it does contain much more accessible and enjoyable songs. Chrysalis Heart is definitely one of their best.

Light Your Light is another very sweet song (as I said in a previous review, members of the old Front Line Assembly forum would probably go with “cheesy”). At their best, they do have a good line in big, catchy, synth-based songs. Perhaps that’s a formula, but it is a good one.

The instrumental Raindown brings us to the halfway point of the album in pleasant form. It’s not as overwhelming as some of its predecessors, but it’s a nice piece nonetheless. Sky (Tears from Heaven), on the other hand, is another moment of total perfection. A return to their formula, perhaps, but when that formula involves great vocals and an adorably catchy melody, who’s complaining?

Hammer doesn’t quite work as far as I’m concerned – there’s an ear-piercingly high chime sound all the way through it which is a little offputting, and its chorus tries really hard to be annoying. It doesn’t stop being pleasant, but neither does it ever really become more than that. And while Awakening is far from being annoying, it somehow seems to lack the passion that Delerium have when they’re on full form.

Sadly Frostbite doesn’t entirely work for me either, but Keyless Door does, and is another beautiful song, drawing the album gradually towards its closing point with the title track Music Box Opera.

This may not be Delerium‘s finest hour, but it’s generally a strong album. Although the later tracks in particular may not quite live up to the legendary status that they have built up over the last couple of decades, it’s still got some great moments.

Seemingly ready to help kill off physical media, they were kind enough to include three bonus tracks on the download edition of Music Box Opera, the best of which is the brief foray into dubstep with Stargazing, perhaps a little too radical to include on the album itself.

The best version of Music Box Opera to buy is the download edition, available widely.

The Grammy Awards 2014

American pop and rock (OK, mainly country and hip hop) snorefest The Grammys took place a couple of weeks ago, but the list of awards is so long that it normally takes me a while to put together a response. So here, in the middle of Awards Week 2014, is my post about the Grammy Awards.

The ceremony took place in Los Angeles on January 26th, and it was definitely a night to remember. If you were crazy French robots Daft Punk, anyway, who carried away the Album of the Year and Best Dance / Electronica Album for Random Access Memories and the Record of the Year and the tenuous Best Pop Duo / Group Performance for Get Lucky with Pharrell Williams, as well as Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

In the vaguely interesting dance categories, Best Dance / Electronica Album boasted four other disappointed nominees: Disclosure, Calvin Harris, Kaskade, and Pretty Lights. The Best Dance Recording award left Calvin Harris and Kaskade equally disappointed, as well as Duke Dumont and Armin van Buuren, while Zedd featuring Foxes went away happy (well, I assume they were happy with having won it).

The Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical (remember there are always so many great classical remixes that they get their own category) featured nominations for Delerium and Michael Logen‘s lovely Days Turn into Nights, remixed by Andy Caldwell, as well as remixes by Alesso, Sultan and Ned Shepard and Photek for OneRepublic, Bruno Mars, and Bob Marley and the Wailers respectively. The winner was Cedric Gervais‘s remix of Summertime Sadness by Lana del Rey.

In the Best New Age Album category, Brian Eno‘s Lux was fighting Peter Kater‘s Illumination, Kitaro‘s Final Call, and R. Carlos Nakai and Will Clipman‘s Awakening the Fire, but the final winner was Laura Sullivan, with Love’s River.

David Bowie was nominated for Best Rock Performance for The Stars (Are Out Tonight) and Best Rock Album for The Next Day but failed to win anything (that’s technically known as a “snub,” I believe).

Which is about all I can think of to say. In other news, the remaining half of The Beatles reunited because it’s fifty years since something relating to them and America happened, enabling them to receive one of seven Lifetime Achievement Awards. The others were nabbed by someone called Clifton Chenier, The Isley Brothers, Kraftwerk, Kris Kristofferson, Armando Manzanero, and Maud Powell. It would be a lot easier to get excited for Kraftwerk if they were in better company.

Thomas Newman‘s Skyfall soundtrack won the concisely named Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media and Best Song Written for Visual Media (for Adele‘s Skyfall). The ever-contemporary Herb Alpert grabbed the Best Pop Instrumental Album for Steppin’ Out, and Ziggy Marley beat Sly & Robbie to take the Best Reggae Album for Ziggy Marley in Concert.

The full list of nominees and winners is kindly provided by The Telegraph here.


Singles chart of the year 2013 for stowaways

Two consecutive years of great new Pet Shop Boys albums has caused a bit of a takeover on the Singles chart of the year, with no fewer than ten entries on the top twenty, and that means there are actually only three different artists in the top ten. So rather than present it in full, we’ll do a bit of selective editing after number ten. First though, here are the top ten:

  1. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Running to the Sea
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Love is a Bourgeois Construct
  3. Pet Shop Boys – Vocal
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Memory of the Future
  5. Pet Shop Boys feat. Example – Thursday
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Axis
  7. Depeche Mode – Heaven
  8. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Ice Machine
  9. Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul
  10. Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher

And here are some highlights from the rest of the chart:

  • 11. Brian Eno – Fractal Zoom
  • 13. Delerium feat. Michael Logen – Days Turn into Nights
  • 14. Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness
  • 17. Little Boots – Motorway
  • 22. Phildel – Storm Song
  • 24. Goldfrapp – Drew
  • 27. The Presets – Ghosts
  • 30. Vanessa Paradis – Love Song
  • 31. Crystal Castles – Affection
  • 33. Annie – A&R EP