Personnel: Rhys Fulber (vocals, keyboards, programming); Chemda, Jane, Joanna Stevens, Tiff Lacey, Leah Randi (vocals); Sean Ashby, Emerson Swinford (guitar); Chris Elliott (strings, piano, keyboards); Susan Richter (piano); Jamie Muhoberac (keyboards); Ashwin Sood (drums, percussion); Carmen Rizzo (programming).
Additional personnel: Chemda.
Recording information: Ash's House, West Vancouver; Hollypark Lane; Shadowlands, Gibsons, Canada; Silkhouse, London, England; Strait Sound, Roberts Creek; Studio 775, Los Angeles, CA; The Green Jacket, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
Photographers: Rhys Fulber; Olaf Heine.
Three years after an impressive debut, Rhys Fulber shows his solo project wasn't a one-shot deal nor a lucky stab at reinvention. Extraordinary Ways is similar to Conjure One, in that it's lush and majestic ambient pop. The difference this time around is more in the recording process and Fulber's inspirations. With Conjure One, Fulber traveled the world to record while applying Middle Eastern influences. For Extraordinary Ways, he wrote songs only in Los Angeles and tones down the global ambitions. He again assembles a roster of powerful vocalists with whom he can't go wrong: Jane, Chemda, Tiff Lacey, and Joanna Stevens. Fulber even contributes vocals himself, on an unexpected cover of the Buzzcocks' "I Believe." It's a little out of place, but still interesting. Toward the end, the impact drops down a notch, and one wishes the vocalists had some better melodies with which to work. Nonetheless, this is an engaging and spiritual listen. ~ Kenyon Hopkin