Embracing original concepts is something I can admire in any art even if it doesn’t always work. In the case of Victoria Hume her new album not only introduces an original idea but for the most part it works on many different levels.
Hume has worked as an art manager in most of her professional life commissioning visual and performing arts projects in hospitals - and writing and performing music separately. She learned about delirium by interviewing people with it as part of a project she was working on. She ended up taking excerpts from those interviews and merging them with original music, which would become Delirium.
The music on Delirium is sparse, haunting and fitting for the topics she sings about and things the people talk about. At the center of these songs are piano and vocals but other instruments such as bass, guitar and viola make an appearance as well. Apparently from my source the music was written in one night, which makes zero sense to me. There are fourteen songs on the album that are quite structured. Either way the songs are impressive.
Let me start off by saying this album is engaging and unique. Hume has a great voice and I thought the music could stand on its own and I sometimes thought I would have actually preferred it that way. The way they insert the vocals worked some times and other times it felt too separated from the music.
The vocal snippets worked best when they were against ambient instrumental passages similar to something you would have heard from Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Other times it felt out of place like when they were played at the same time Hume was singing.
Sometimes the interview snippets lasted too long without any music. A good example of this is the very first track “Introduction & Dream song.” The first four minutes are straight up interviews with no music. At the four-minute mark there is a beautiful ambient swell of orchestral string and piano. The music could have showed up about thirty seconds in and would have made the interviews more complex with emotional shades.
Towards the end of the track you hear fantastic vocal harmonies that I wanted to last longer. “Control” revolves around Max Richter type compositional work and starts to showcase how talented Hume is as a singer. The next track “Eternity” is scary but beautiful in its own way while “Space & Bones” is ominous.
This is a very good album that is on the verge of being great. She almost nailed what she set out to do but it doesn’t always feel seamless. Overall, there was a lot to appreciate here and I recommend you take some time with Delirium.
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