You’ve heard the voice of Lisbeth Scott. You may have picked up on one of her solo singer-songwriter albums like Dove or heard her calling the heavens in gothic chants with State of Grace. But it’s more likely you’ve encountered her in dozens of film soundtracks. She sang fantasy refrains in The Chronicles of Narnia, wailed behind Bruce Willis‘s travels with the dead in The Sixth Sense, escaped danger with Harrison Ford in the latest Indiana Jones film, and sang laments in John Williams’ score for Munich.
It’s that side of Lisbeth Scott that turns up on the debut album of Biomusique, a collaboration with Greg Ellis. He’s highly regarded as a percussionist who works in films, plays with Billy Idol and Juno Reactor, and was the rhythm half of the Persian fusion duo, Vas, with singer Azam Ali. In fact, songs like “Ohroo,” will remind you of Vas as Ellis plays a mountain dulcimer with mallets, recalling Azam Ali’s hammered dulcimer playing with Vas.
But with Lisbeth Scott, he’s found a different kind of collaborator. On The 10,000 Steps, she brings a classical sensibility and a gentle feel to songs that read like haiku. “The Tender Green” mixes Ellis’s tribal drums with Scott’s layered, serene vocals, intoning “There is a world somewhere, way up high, way down deep.” It builds to a slow, erotic throb that resolves to a tribal coda.
Like a Rumi poem or an Abbess Hildegard von Bingen chant, Scott’s spare lyrics can be heard as love poems or hymns to a higher spirit. The opening “Ananda” finds her calling out passionately in despair and anguish. “Caeili et Terra” (Heaven & Earth) is a lament with Scott’s voice stacked up in Enyaesque choirs.
Greg Ellis has placed the instruments in a delicate balance that matches Scott’s lyrics. On “Redemption, Lisbeth Scott just sits down and plays piano in a pensive, Arvo Pärt-like meditation while Ellis blows some disarmingly affecting trumpet, like an elegy for Miles Davis.
Their name might sound like the product of a scientific gene splice or music created by plugging into plants, but Biomusique is much more about human souls than earth souls.
You can hear a review of Biomusique with sound samples. Their CD of the Month feature show will run on Echoes on Monday, June 2 and an interview with Biomusique can be heard on Tuesday, June 24
© 2008 John Diliberto