The Showtime cable series “The L Word” has spun off a soundtrack CD titled L Tunes: Music from and inspired by the L Word on Music with a Twist/Columbia Records. The CD features all female artists and includes Goldfrapp 's “Ride a White Horse,” Nina Simone 's “Do I Move You,” Fiona Apple 's “Sleep to Dream,” Tori Amos ' “A Sorta Fairytale,” Peaches ' “Boys Wanna Be Her” and PJ Harvey 's “Down By The Water” as well as songs from Kirsten Price, Prototypes, Pink, The Cliks and more.

Carly Simon starts the new year with an album of reinvented old standards. Her new CD Into White on Columbia Records features Simon crooning Judy Garland 's “Over the Rainbow,” Cat Stevens ' “Into White,” The Everly Brothers ' “All I Have to Do is Dream,” The Beatles ' “Blackbird,” the classic Stephen Foster campfire classic “Oh Susanna,” and more. In addition to a couple of Gaelic traditional hymns and tracks covering James Taylor and Harry Belafonte , Simon also offers two of her own songs.

Nanci GriffithGrammy-winning “folkabilly” singer Nanci Griffith returns with a new “old” direction on her latest album, Ruby's Torch on Rounder Records. The CD lets Griffith stray from her usual folkish style to offer 11 tracks of intimate “torch” style songs recorded with her Blue Moon Orchestra.

The CD includes of a mix of revisited Griffith songs like “Late Night Grande Hotel” as well as gentle covers of others' songs like “When I Dream” (previously recorded by Crystal Gayle and Willie Nelson), Jimmy Webb's “If These Walls Could Speak” and three Tom Waits numbers. Also included is a richly orchestrated string-rich cover of the Frank Sinatra vehicle “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Ruby's Torch is a stirring, relaxing listen for a late night's settling in.

Delerium Delerium
Nuages Du Monde

The duo of Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb broke out from the industrial dance machine of Frontline Assembly and issued the first Delerium album back in 1989. You wouldn't have known it at the time, but their collaboration would eventually spawn an entire subculture of ethereal techno dreampop. It wouldn't however be until their 10th release, in 1997, that they finally broke through to the mass consciousness when they featured Sarah McLachlan singing on one of the ambient, uplifting techno tracks on the album Karma. On their previous disc, Semantic Spaces, the duo had featured Kristy Thirsk as a guest vocalist on three tracks, and on Karma, they upped the ante on guest vocalists, bringing back Thirsk and adding McLachlan, Camille Henderson and Jacqui Hunt to craft a brilliant album of oscillating, exotic pop music. Karma was a huge smash and set their formula in stone for the next decade – craft piano and synthesizer soundscapes that were set off by the angelic vocals of a revolving school of guest female vocalists.

Poem followed in 2000, featuring among its guests Mediaeval Baebes, Kristy Hawkshaw, Leigh Nash and Matthew Sweet in a break from the femme-centric formula. Chimera appeared in 2003, and featured the return of Thirsk and Nash to the mic, as well as offering collaborations with Delerium newcomers Jael, Zoe Johnston and Julee Cruise.

Over the past four years, Fulber has issued two albums on his own following the same ambient techno/revolving vocalist format under the monicker Conjure One. But now, he's reunited with Leeb for the 13th Delerium album and the band's fifth to feature guest vocalists. And the Delerious duo pick up right where they left off with Chimera. The new disc again features Thirsk, as well as Hawkshaw, Medieaval Baebes, Jael and Johnston, as well as a couple newcomers.

It may be the most dreamy of the Delerium releases; Thirsk's “Self-Sabateur” (a song about being one's “own worst enemy”) is the most pop single worthy. Hawkshaw's head-nodding “Fleeting Instant” is a close second; the two are probably the most memorable songs on the disc. The rest of Nuages Du Monde listens more like an extended percollating dream. The album opens with “Angelicus,” which centers around a ululating Middle Eastern chant that is chilling yet warm at the same time, as the Fulber/Leeb duo slowly build a rhythmic dream around her wordless call.

The disc then moves into the throbbing arpeggiated synthesizer hums of “Extollere,” which still has an Eastern vibe, but features a more standard lyric structure, sung by Katharine Blake and Mediaeval Baebes. The harmonies on the chorus of this song are truly a homage to angels – this song feels as if it were channeled from heaven.

Johnston brings the album back to a more Western vibe in her melancholic, lightly piano-accented “The Way You Want it to Be,” before a warm, mostly instrumental rhythm bed steps up the pace in “Indoctrination.” That leads to Thirsk's “Self Saboteur,” which after all the exoticism listens like a ray of familiar pop light before the album moves back into exotic world music in “Tectonic Shift, an instrumental that listens like a tense film soundtrack, with taut string work, low-voiced chanting and percussion and eerie repeating piano notes.

Like all of Delerium's work, this is an album not so much of songs, but of soundscapes. Every track builds on voices and orchestration to create dreamlike moods that are both distinct, and yet, somehow run seamlessly into each other. It's a wonderful ethereal aural dream to get lost in.