It's been a few years since the last studio effort from this ambient mood pop project of industrial pioneer Bill Leeb. And, while old-time fans (like me) had hoped for a darker, more epic journey, "Music Box Opera" goes mostly in an increasingly slick and radio-friendly dance-pop direction.
The sheen "Consciousness Of Love" opens, featuring vocals by Stef Lang, and the hints of silly dubstep trendiness instantly turn me away. The initial single, "Monarch", fares much better, and remains my personal favorite, with Middle-Eastern vocal stylings by Nadina. "Days Turn Into Nights" (with Michael Logen) is totally forgettable, as is the silly Madonna-sounding "Chrysalis Heart" (again, with Stef Lang). "Light Your Light" proves that some music is better without lyrics, while "Raindown" is a pleasant slice of Summery instrumental electronica that provides a measure of relief from the onslaught of insipid radio pop.
Other high (and low) lights include Leona Naess's funky "Hammer", and the old-school "Awakening", which again features Middle-Eastern chants courtesy of Nadina. The lovely Kristy Thirsk doesn't fail with her pair of tracks, but overall this is a pretty spotty, and lengthy (at well over 70 minutes) set of pop-dance tunes with little substance. (Nettwerk)