“EXCLUSIVE! Preview of the Delirium CD”
By: Keith Johnson – Seattle, Washington (USA)
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Cirque fans have been waiting months for the other dancin’ shoe to drop. We’ve heard of a 2-CD/DVD set originally scheduled for last fall called “20 Years Under The Sun.” And we’ve heard it would contain the previously released chill remix-oriented “Tapis Rouge: Solarium” CD (originally a VIP tent gift, then re-released in the US with a new cover on November 23, 2004), as well as “Delirium,” a disk of dance remixes of Cirque du Soleil music. We were also wondering what the mentioned DVD content might be. When it didn’t make its original Fall 2004 release date, we wondered if the “Delirium” part of the deal might have fallen through. And when “Le Best Of” made its appearance in October, we were concerned the project was abandoned.
That concern was to put to rest throughout the fall and winter, as tracks from Delirium started appearing on UK-produced 12″ vinyl singles. First to appear was “Aborigenes Jam” remixed by Francois K with Eric Kupper. Then came “Emballa” from Louie Vega featuring Jaffa, followed by “Kumbalawe” from Roger Sanchez (which, as we mentioned last month, is the hit of the bunch making the Top 10 on Billboards Club Play List). Finally, a Tiesto remix of “Mer Noire” arrived with an Alain Vinet and Quicksound take on “Africa” as the flip side.
Now, thanks to a kind source, we’ve gotten word that Solarium/Delirium will be released as a two-disk set (no word on any DVD content though) this May. According to our source, the set comes in a nice book-style package that is “very striking.”
In addition, our source clued us into a special performance tied into the CD sets release! On Saturday, March 26th, some time between 3pm and 11pm, near the pool of the Doubletree Surfcomber Hotel in Miami, FL, Cirque du Soleil Musique will celebrate the release of “Solarium/Delirium” with an exclusive live performance with guest DJ Alain Vinet. Also appearing that night will be Louie Vega and Eric Kupper, who also contribute to the Delirium set, among other performers.
The showcase is part of a convention called M3 (“Miami, Music, Multimedia” – m3summit.com), which states it is “the only gathering in the United States to merge music, technology, art, fashion, and multimedia as an integrated lifestyle. Part festival, part trade show, and part industry confab, M3 brings together business leaders with forward-thinking consumers to celebrate the future of entertainment.” The Easter weekend convention combines “Buzz-worthy music, art, technology, and multimedia presented in state-of-the-art environments,” with “High-profile forums for the introduction of new products, fashions, and ideas to an international audience of industry professionals and music lovers.” M3 is attended by “Artists, producers, music company executives, advertising directors, film and television music supervisors, fashion designers, video game creators and serious fans. What they each have in common is a desire to both work and play hard, and they share an insatiable appetite for pop culture and the latest art, entertainment, fashion and gear.” Sounds like a bunch of scene-meisters to me!
Which might be why Ian Tremblay and the Cirque du Soleil Musique division decided to host Saturday night’s “Sunset Session.” Again from the website; “Produced in a beautiful, pool-side, beachfront environment and featuring state-of-the-art sound, video, and multimedia, the M3 Sunset Sessions present A-list artists alongside the most exciting new talent from around the world. The line-ups push the boundaries of electronic and urban music, highlighting top DJs, turntablists, and live performances.”
But wait, there’s more! How much is this killer confab, including this special evening concert? A mere $180.00 if you buy your membership by March 20th (after that it’s $285.00). But a limited number of $20.00 “Sunet Session” tickets are available for Miami Cirque fans at www.wanttickets.com.
Normally for us that would be it. We, like you, would have to wait patiently for the May release of the two-disk set to get our complete taste of what’s only been hinted at in the vinyl releases to date. But what if an advance copy were to make its way into our hot little hands? What would an intrepid reporter do, to what lengths would we go, to get the information to you, our valued readership?
There you can find almost any Cirque collectible you want. We’ve seen one-of-a-kind experiences and even original Cirque character mask props there (though neither was actually sold, see our past issues for details). EBAY, at one time or another, features everything from currently offered products to rare items from Cirque’s beginnings, and occasionally glimpses into its future. Which leads to this months exclusive preview of the dance-remix “Delirium” CD, from a preview copy purchased there.
The CD came with no packaging other than a list of tracks. The CD is even stickered “Not For Production” and was duplicated on a gold CD-R blank.
Now here’s where Yours Truly is out of his league. I’m not a club hopper, dance fiend, or highly knowledgable about the DJs or remix styles featured here. So I couldn’t even begin to tell you how these remixes fare against other offerings from these DJs and producers. I don’t even know what kind of “style” most of these are in, and must embarrassingly admit I don’t know my “house” from my “deep house” from “trance.” There are several in the Cirque-fan-verse much more qualified to comment on these tracks. But I have the CD and they don’t – thank Visa! So I shall press on with my impressions of this soon-to-be-released 62:09 long set, and the reader will pardon if they are not as knowledgable as they might be.
The approach here is certainly different than Solarium, which featured down-tempo “chillout” remixes of Cirque songs. While that disk might have been a more appropriate sell for the upscale Cirque target audience, Delirium presents Cirque music with a heavy dance beat in a mostly continuous mix from beginning to end, clocking in at 127-133 bpm (beats per minute) throughout.
1. Emballa from Varekai (6:22 – 127 bpm) – Louie Vega featuring Jaffa – We start out with energy, as this Varekai track gets a nice latin-style remix. Much of the vocal is preserved here, making it more of a “song” than some of the others. It doesn’t sound much different than the Nitin Sawhney-produced “soundtrack” version, but takes on more of a tropical flavor.
2. Querer from Alegria (6:05 – 127 bpm) – Julien Jabre – A samba! What a different approach! Francesca Gagnon’s original vocal comes shining through. Though I must admit I’m so used to the original that hearing these lyrics in this arrangement is a bit unsettling. Again, much of the lyric is used, giving this version a more complete feel. Hand claps and a pipe organ-sound keyboard also pique interest.
3. KumbalawÃ© from Saltimbanco (7:51 – 129 bpm) – Roger Sanchez – This is one of the standout tracks of the bunch, well deserving of its place on the Top 10 Club Play List. A basic funky beat is soon followed by a deep male voice chanting “Koom-ba-la, ja-koom-ba,” followed by the title word with a long echoing tail. A keyboard accentuates the bassline, pulling you deeper in. Sounding like a voodoo priest the chanting continues, augmented only by the title word sung by the chorus from the original song. There is no real “song” to be found here, only tribal groove. Entrancing and powerful. Wait, I have to listen to it again….
4. Aborigenes Jam from Dralion (6:42 – 132 bpm) – Francois K/Eric Kupper – The pace picks up here with samples of African-sounding percussion comprising much of its backbeat. More electronic in its pulse, this utilizes much of the female vocal during its breaks. It’s nice, but after the power of Sanchez’ Kumbalawe, this just kind of lies there.
5. Poiknoi from Saltimbanco (6:41 – 131 bpm) – Sasha – Going even more electronic, brings in some of the strings and female vocals from the original and surrounds it with swirling percussion. The song breaks the beat in the middle, almost presenting the chorus in its original form, surrounded by an echo chamber. I have a preference, such as it is, for songs that don’t lose their beat for long periods, so I can’t say I’m attracted to this too much, though it is pretty.
6. Africa from O (8:48 – 127 bpm) – Quicksound with Alain Vinet – Quicksound is a Montreal-based percussion/performance collective and here they collaborate with fellow Quebecer Alain Vinet on a tune that’s a favorite of remixers (appearing here in its third incarnation). I can’t see the attraction here, as there is no real “song” to remix, just a vocal and kora playing. But that must be it, as is allows the remixer free reign. Here I feel it doesn’t work – the vocals don’t seem to “fit” inside the beat, and the kora from the original doesn’t add much. The percussion is nice, featuring an interesting digiridoo sound, but otherwise this doesn’t click with me.
7. Terre Aride from O (6:10 – 126 bpm) – Jori Hulkkonen – Is this a remix? Really?? I can hardly tell. A bit of vocal chanting and bit of the male throat singing is all that connects it with the original. I can’t recognize this at all. It just goes on for six minutes without taking any interesting directions. A mis-fire.
8. Spiritual Spiral from Dralion (6:44 – 134 bpm) – Carmen Rizzo – Deep drum percussion takes center stage here as the pace quickens towards the last two selections. With no forefront beat dominating the mix you have to listen deeper to get the rhythm. Hammered dulcimer samples from the original make an appearance as does a filtered version of Erik Karol’s vocal. The filtering lends an interesting aspect to the tune and keeps the ear attuned.
9. Mer Noire from O (6:44 – 133 bpm) – Tiesto – A heavy beat slams to the forefront to announce the final song on the disk. More digiridoo sounds come next, followed by the angelic original chorus female vocals. We return to the more complete song form, with much of the original, including several of the exotic instruments, used here. This would be my favorite were it not for the complete breakdown in the middle, for more female solo vocalizing from the original. As if that weren’t enough, it takes another :50 for the beat to return after that! Yes it’s pretty and nice and all, and the beat is still there in the background, but is a break of that length necessary? The return of the beat is joyous but short, until the song finally brings the album to a close.
And that’s it! The first, exclusive look at the Cirque du Soleil dance remix album. On the whole, I find both Solarium and Delirium fun to listen to depending on mood. There are (of course) hits and misses on both. Now if only Cirque du Soleil Musique could finally get beyond the “remixed by/interpreted by/inspired by” kick they’re currently on and concentrate on show soundtrack albums that actually represent the shows they come from.
But we’ll get to that next time.