Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Gerrard’

A Song for Sandy Hook Elementary School.

December 16, 2012

NewtownI don’t usually employ the Echoes Blog as a vehicle to comment on current events.  But in this time of anguish and pain, I think a song is needed.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


The Ritual and Rapture of Dead Can Dance.

December 10, 2012
Hear Dead Can Dance in an exclusive broadcast
live from Geneva tonight 12/16/2012 on Echoes
This article originally published in CD Review in 1990
Dead Can Dance Live 2012

Dead Can Dance Live 2012

On the day of our Exclusive broadcast of Dead Can Dances performance in Geneva in October, I unearthed this article I wrote on the band back in 1990 for CD Review Magazine.  It still seems pretty up-to-date.

Stepping into the music of Dead Can Dance is like traveling through an ancient culture and hearing an archaic language.  Only it’s a language that was never spoken until Dead Can Dance singer Lisa Gerrard gave it voice.   Lisa Gerrard sounds like she’s intoning  some arcane dialect, but according to Brendan Perry, the other half of Dead Can Dance, she’s actually creating her own hybrid language.”I suppose the best way to explain her approach to the human voice as an instrument is in a sense speaking in tongues as opposed to any particular tongue,” he stated in the New York offices of 4AD Records back in 1990 when their Aion album was released.  “They [the lyrics] all are influenced by various languages but have no syntactical meaning in any given language.”

Which doesn’t mean that Gerrard isn’t communicating anything. Her voice coils around the gothic ambiences of Dead Can Dance, creating Gregorian-like chants on “The Arrival and the Reunion” that would fit right into a monastery of the Dark Ages if it weren’t for the elaborate polyphony.  On the other hand, “Avatar” from the 1985 disc Spleen and Ideal sounds like a dervish mantra.

At the time, Gerrard was loath to assign specific meanings to her vocal flights.  In fact, the delicately boned, blonde singer rarely gave interviews back then.  She had refused to sit down for an interview with me, leaving it all to Perry.  I only got her then when she came to gather Brendan Perry. I leaned over the table, pointing my microphone in her direction and just ambushed her with questions.

“The thing that is important to me is to break the barrier of language and to communicate something without words that’s for everyone,” she stated in a painstaking cadence, as if every word is being wrenched from her soul.

Dead Can Dance from 1980s

Dead Can Dance from 1980s

Dead Can Dance got together in Australia, where their parents had emigrated from Ireland and England.  They fell in love with each other and Arabic music.  “When I first met Lisa in Australia, we were on the dole [unemployment] at the time in Melbourne.  We worked in a few Arab restaurants, Lebanese restaurants and things and they used to play middle eastern music recordings and we used to make copies of them.  We just fell in love with that music together.”

They started as a sort of doom and gloom techno-rock band, but discovered a new sound on the song “Frontier” with homemade metal percussion that sounded like a troupe of Turkish darbuka players and Gerrard taking her first stab at free vocalise.  A move to London and the 4AD label yielded their self-titled debut in 1984.

Their music is drawn from Gregorian, middle eastern and Bulgarian open-throat singing styles and surrounded by instruments like the Turkish saz, the hurdy-gurdy, and the yang ch’in, a Chinese hammered dulcimer that Gerrard plays in a style of the Persian santoor.  Combined with synthesizers and  strings, they create a ritual music.

While Lisa Gerrard keeps her meaning hidden in glossolalia, Brendan Perry is eager to articulate his thoughts through music, which might explain why he sings in a rich tenor, in English.  “I’ve always felt more inclined towards the ballads, the sense of poetry of the language,” he says.  However, on their first U. S. concert tour in the fall of 1989, he was also exploring the same ecstatic style as Gerrard.

Gerrard, however, eschews these discussions. “From an interior point of view, the work that I do is original to me,” she claims.  “There’s the exterior identification with sound and there’s the interior projection of communication which you cannot talk about.  That’s why I don’t do interviews.  Because you try to talk about that in abstracts.  And the abstracts are never understood and really it’s better to just listen to the work.”

Listening to the work of Dead Can Dance reveals a sound that’s as close as modern music comes to rapture.

Originally published in CD Review in 1990.

Here’s more on Dead Can Dance from Echoes.
2012 Echoes Dead Can Dance Interview Podcast.
Review of Latest Dead Can Dance album, Anastasis
Five Essential Dead Can Dance Albums

AND don’t forget to vote in the Best of Echoes 2012 Poll NOW!  Closes at 6AM Monday 12/17/2012

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.

With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like Hammock’s Departure Songs coming to you each month.  Dead Can Dance’s Anastasis was a CD pick in September. Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album.

Samsara-What Goes Around….

October 12, 2012

Here the Echoes Samsara Interview on Echoes weekend stations.

Echoes Samsara Echoes Podcast: Listen Here.

Samsara is the third feature film from director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson.  Like their previous movies, it explores grand concepts with grand images and grand music.  Samsara is Sanskrit for “continuous flow”, the repeating cycle of birth, life, death.

Ron Fricke:  How we created it is as a nonverbal guided meditation on the themes of birth, death and rebirth.  It’s about that flow.

The film travels across the globe with spectacular footage of dancers in Bali and China, temples in Burma, and worshipers in Mecca.  These spectacular and scenic vistas are interwoven with scenes of destitution, abject poverty and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina where they shot buildings decimated by wind, rain and floods.

Bagan Temples in Burma from Samsara

The score, half written by their long time collaborator, Michael Stearns and the other half by Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance and her writing partner, Marcello DeFrancisci, is an ambient global meditation with none of the sweeping orchestral sound that is the convention for this kind of film.   In these non-narrative films, with no actors or dialogue, music is the emotional conduit.

Ron Fricke: I would say it’s at least half, 50/50 image and you know, in music.  It’s really, the dialogue of the film is really the music.  It give you the emotional context of the film.

Mark Magidson:  We’ve been doing this for a while and Michael is a big part of the process as a partner.  Michael’s music is very spacious and that kind of approach is conducive to this kind of filmmaking and the kinds of films that we’re making that leave space for the viewer to bring something of their own reality or their own experience to the viewing experience, where we’re not trying to necessarily say good or bad, or right or wrong with the imagery, it’s open to some interpretation, but the experience is guided.

You can hear an interview with Ron Fricke, Mark Magidson and Michael Stearns talking about Samsara in the Echoes Podcast.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineNow you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

You get great CDs like these and our October CD Club selection,  Hans Christian & Harry Manx’s  You Are the Music of My Silence  by becoming a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours the states or Eno releases a new album.

Dead Can Dance-CD of the Month.

August 30, 2012

[Hear Dead Can Dance’s Anastasis featured tonight on Echoes.]

Anastasis is  Greek for “resurrection” and that’s what happens here with Dead Can Dance, the gothic rock band who took deep atmospheres, ritual songs and supralingua dialects to ecstatic, transcendent heights in the 1980s and 90s.  There hasn’t been any new music from the band since founders Lisa Gerard and Brendan Perry broke up in ’98, first romantically and then musically.  Gerrard went on to expand the Dead Can Dance sound on a series of solo albums and film scores, including Gladiator.  Perry went into relative obscurity, until releasing his second solo album, Ark in 2011

(Good live fan footage of “Return of the She-King”)

It’s the sound of Ark, with its drum machine loops and sustained string pads that informs the first new DCD album since 1996’s rhythmically charged, globally influenced, Spiritchaser.  The rhythms of Anastasis fall into mid-tempo caravan-crossing grooves, both ominous and mystical at the same time.  He decorates those patterns with string pads and exotic percussion, including frame drums and the Hang drum on “Anabasis”, another Greek word meaning “journey up country.”  Aside from some Arabic touches and Perry’s current infatuation with the bouzouki, Anastasis sheds a lot of the world music influences heard on their last few CDs, sounding more like their work from the mid-1980s.

Lisa Gerrard’s voice is incandescent as usual. She sounds like a mother who has lost her child on “Anabasis.” But on “Agape,” she’s a wild yet heavenly seductress enticing her lover, her voice driven by her yangqin (hammered dulcimer) cycles and a whining kamencheh.  Whether intoning one of her glossolia prayers on “Kiko” or intertwining multiple vocal lines on the “Gladiator”-style lament of “Return of the She-King,” Gerrard taps a spirit deep and ancient.

Brendan Perry’s languorous voice tends toward the foreboding side of things.  No “get up and get happy” songs for him.  Singing in his chocolate-swathed baritone against surging synth strings and John Barry-style horns on “Children of the Sun,” even a flower-power line sounds like a march to the abyss.

“We are children of the sun,
Our journey’s just begun,
Flowers in our hair.”

But Perry can also hit a yearning pitch that wails in torment at the end of the world.

One of the all-to-infrequent joys of Anastasis is when Perry and Gerrard sing together. They do that on “Return of the She King” and “Children of the Sun,” and each of them comes in for a counter vocal or sings harmony, it instantly lifts the song to a new height of emotional impact.
It’s been seven years since Dead Can Dance toured, sixteen years since their last album.  Hopefully, Anastasis is a true resurrection and the beginning of a new chapter as Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry aspire to the exalted, and often attain it.

Here Anastasis featured on Echoes Monday night, 9/3/2012
Download our interview with Dead Can Dance from iTunes.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineYou get great CDs like Dead Can Dance’s  Anastasis  by becoming a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours, or Brian Eno releases a new CD.

DEAD CAN DANCE Return from the Grave.

March 22, 2012

Dead Can Dance Logo

It seemed like they’d never  get together again.  Even their 2005 reunion tour ended in acrimony, despite selling out every venue they played.  But Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are getting together again as Dead Can Dance.  They’ve been recording new music since the middle of last year and are threatening an album, and have already booked a new North American concert tour playing

Dead Can Dance: Lisa Gerrard & Brendan Perry

mid-size theatre venues like The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.  Tickets for most of their shows go on sale March 31 although there are a few before and after.

Abbess Lisa von DCD

I’ve seen DCD several times and whether playing the Keswick Theater in Philadephia or the Hollywood Bowl in LA with a full orchestra, they have never failed to be less than transcendent.

Information is on their website where they are also offering free downloads of recordings form their 2005 tour.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news.

Two Essential Lisa Gerrard CDs (+3)

August 4, 2010

Lisa Gerrard – The Sound of the Spirit: One of 20 Icons of Echoes.

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Lisa Gerard was the possessed vocalist with Dead Can Dance, the enigmatic group that channeled a world of sound through their electro-ethnic arrangements and the incantatory voice of Gerrard. Gerrard sings in a hybrid supralingua that sounds like a real language, but is actually a dialect of the imagination, channeling sounds from Bulgarian throat singers, gothic hymns, Siberian screams and middle eastern ululations.

Lisa Gerrard

Although Gerrard has been recording solo since 1995 and seems to have been ubiquitous in the last 15 years, she’s actually put out only three true “solo” albums.   The rest have been collaborations, film soundtracks and Eps.    While Gerrard taps into an ecstatic and serene spirit every time she sings, her albums are often spotty or very hard work to get through.  So there are only two albums I would consider essential.  I have included, at the last minute, consideration of three albums that thus far seem to only be available in Australia and on Gerrard’s website, The Black Opal, Departum with Marcello De Francisco and Come Quietly with Klaus Schulze.  There are no Dead Can Dance albums. You can see that list here.


In this collaboration with fellow Australian, Peter Bourke, Lisa Gerrard reaches her most accessible sound on a CD full of trance melodies and church like hymns, except this church has middle eastern percussion and roiling synthesizers.  I feel the spirit! This is the only Gerrard album on which I could say every track hits the mark, from the solemn march of “Pilgrimage of Lost Children” to the askance lament of “The Human Game,” which at the time was her first song actually sung in English in over a decade.  A brilliant album.

The Mirror Pool was Lisa Gerrard’s solo debut, coming on the heals of the birth of her daughter, Lashna.     With a sound that waxes and wanes in the short space between hymns and lullabies, you can hear that influence, especially on the heart-rending sound of “Sanvean,” which was written for her daughter.  She eschews the more rhythmic side of DCD’s sound in favor of shadowy chamber orchestrations.  Out of string swells, drones and tolling bells, Gerrard’s voice arises like a dark angel.

This was her first true solo album since her debut ten years earlier.  In the interim, she came to renown for her film scores like Gladiator, Ali and The Insider.  Her soundtrack work informs much of The Silver Tree,  and in fact, many of the songs come from rejected film scores, including a demo overture she recorded in 2005 for the movie “Constantine. ”  That music turns up in the epic, cinematic sweep of “Towards the Tower.”   Echoes of her theme “Now We Are Free” from Gladiator turn up in “Serenity” and “The Sea Whisperer.” Both sound like the wind-swept ghosts of Irish laments blown over the hills of Tara.    The Silver Tree was an Echoes CD of the Month in May of 2007.

Haven’t heard of this one?  Little wonder.  It’s out on Gerrard Records and as near as I can tell, doesn’t seem to be available anywhere but her site.  It’s a collaboration with Marcello De Francisci, a Los Angeles based film composer.  Some corny spoken word segments at the head of the disc don’t bode well, but it quickly yields some of Gerrard’s most rhythmically lively and vocally enraptured music since Dead Can Dance’s Spirit Chaser.

Like most soundtracks, Gladiator has a lot of filler, but there are two reasons to get this disc co-composed with Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt:  “Sorrow” and “Now We Are Free.” “Sorrow” is the lament sung when Maximus returns home to see his slaughtered family.  “Now We Are Free” is the powerfully affirming anthemic closer to the film that manages to be simultaneously mournful and triumphal.

Lisa Gerrard will be featured tonight, August 4,  on Echoes with materiel drawn from nearly a dozen interviews with the artist over the last 25 years. Echoes On-Line subscribers can hear several interviews and a live performance with Lisa Gerrard.  You can try it for a week for only $2.99.

She was voted #17 among 20 Icons of Echoes and would’ve been in the top ten if she hadn’t split the vote with Dead Can Dance who came in at 10.

You can see Five Essential Dead Can Dance CDs here.

You can also see a review of Lisa Gerrard’s collaboration with Klaus Schulze.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Dead Can Dance: 5 Steps To Ecstasy

April 15, 2010

#10 of 20 Icons of Echoes: Dead Can Dance
5 Essential Dead Can Dance Albums
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Tonight on Echoes we’ll be featuring an extended feature on Dead Can Dance as we look back on the career of this influential band who listeners voted as #10 among 20 Icons of Echoes for our 20th Anniversary.  Dead Can Dance only made 8 proper studio albums, so you’d think it would be easy to pick out five.  It isn’t, but here they are.

Dead Can Dance SPiritChaser1 Spiritchaser
It’s not often that a group’s swansong album is also one of their strongest, but Spiritchaser is still holding up.  Unlike the contemplative moods that dominate most DCD albums, Spiritchaser snarled like a trapped cat and soared like an ecstatic tribal dance.  Songs like” Nierika” and “The Snake and the Moon” were as exhuberant as anything DCD recorded, while still capturing that spirit of the other.

2 Spleen & Ideal
This was the second Dead Can Dance album and established them as gothic savants moving from Gregorian chants on “De Profundis” to 21st century chants on “Circumradiant Dawn. ” It also features one of their great forgotten songs, “Avatar” a dervish of rapturous dance.   Brendan Perry assays his epic and anthemic “The Cardinal Sin.”

3 Into the Labyrinth
This was their break-up album in many ways, recorded while their personal relationship disintegrated.  It’s little wonder, then, that Into the Labyrinth sounds like two different albums.  One is Brendan Perry’s more conventional songs and laments, harkening back to past relationships, lost youth and paths not taken including the snarling “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove.”    Gerrard, on the other hand, immerses herself in the abstractions of her uncanny vocal style, bringing Gregorian chants to the African jungle on “Yulunga” and weaving an enchantresses spell on “The Spider’s Stratagem,” all of them wordless, calling out to the spirits.

4 The Serpent’s Egg
This features some of their strongest choral writing including the epic, “Host of the Seraphim” and “The Writing of My Father’s Hand.”  Brendan gets in one of his best DCD era songs, “Severance,” a song of loss.  “Echolalia” taps a Native American gothic sound with both Gerrard and Perry singing in stacked choirs and call & response chants.

5 Aion
This might be their most Mediaeval album, full of hurdy gurdys and folk forms from the Middle Ages.  They even do a straight rendition of the 14th century “Saltarello” and render a haunting version of a 16th century Catalan tune called “The Song of The Sibyl.”  Gerrard also began tapping her Bulgarian muse.

For those who just need a sampling from across the Dead Can Dance spectrum, you could do worse than Memento, a collection that came out in 2005.   Nothing from their first album, but most of their classics are here, including “Cantara” from Within the Realm of the Dying Sun, an album that many people would include in their Top 5 DCD albums I suspect.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Hector Zazou Dies: Ambient Chamber World Music Pioneer

September 11, 2008

Hector Zazou was a quirky French composer who worked quietly in the background, creating music that sent subtle ripples across the music firmament. He died this past Monday, September 8 at the age of 60. Most of the hipster community discovered him in the mid-1990s when he released the albums, Sahara Blue and Songs from the Cold Seas, both brilliant world fusion collaborations with a galaxy of new music stars including Lisa Gerrard, Björk, David Sylvian and John Cale. In an Audio Magazine review of Sahara Blue, I wrote:
Sahara Blue

Sahara Blue should be a textbook album for anyone attempting a tribute album in the future. Once beyond the allure of the initial concept, Zazou’s Sahara Blue gets more interesting and reveals more layers with each listening, both musically and poetically.  

It’s fitting that he adapted the writings of Rimbaud who sought altered realities and the places where edges blur. Zazou has been doing that from the beginning on albums like Geologies and Geographies, both at the genesis of Ambient Chamber Music, mixing string ensembles with electronics in compositions that were poignantly melodic. 

A graduate of the Conservatory of Marseilles, Zazou studied with electronic music pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. He downplays the influence of Schaeffer, but you can hear the impact of the French musique concrete pioneer in the way Zazou manipulated sound and used fragments of performances to create a final work.

“That’s where Hector Zazou is really smart,” recalled Lisa Gerrard in a 1995 Echoes interview about Sahara Blue. “He picks up fragments and once he gets them home, he really works them, but the fragments he picks up, he picks up in bizarre situations really.”

Coming Home He created African electro dance music with Bikaye, produced seminal albums by Yungchen Lhamo and Sevara Nazarkhan and collaborated with fellow ambient chamGlyphber music pioneer, Harold Budd on the album, Glyph.

Zazou operated where the borders are obscured and the secrets are found in between. “Yes. Absolutely, he agreed in a 1994 interview for Echoes. “Because it’s in these areas that you can discover something. You know it’s like when you discover an old city or something like that, so probably all the searchers are going to be in the center. But if you walk two kilometers from the center, I’m sure that you can find some little things. But, my field is working on these layers of sound and so it is a surrealistic place where everything is a little dreamy and out of the real world.”

Hector Zazou is supposed to have a final album, an ambient instrumental CD called In The House of Mirrors, released shortly.   There’s an excellent obit in The Independent.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))







Echoes Top 25 For August: Ottmar Liebert Leads and Electronica Returns

August 28, 2008

Ottmar Liebert’s The Scent of Light, our August CD of the Month tops the Echoes Top 25 for August, but electronica and ambient music make a comeback after a few months off. They include Marconi Union who repeats their Top 5 performance with A Lost Connection, a download only release.  Joining them are Klaus Schulze and Lisa Gerrard’s Farscape, Darshan Ambient’s obviously ambient From Pale Hands to Weary Eyes and Sumner McKane’s What A Great Place to Be, are all electric/electronically based albums that debut in the Top Ten this month.   There are nine new entries this month in the Top 25.  Go to the Echoes Blog to read reviews and hear audio reviews of many of these recordings, including Marconi Union, Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard, Biomusique, California Guitar Trio, Sacred Earth and David Pritchard.


1. Ottmar Liebert The Scent of Light Spiral Subwave Records Int’l Read the Review!
2. Jami Sieber Unspoken: The Music of Only Breath Out Front Music CDBaby
3. Marconi Union A Lost Connection MU Transmissions
4. Don Peyote Peyote Dreaming Don Peyote Recordings/Interchill
5. Gerry O’Beirne The Bog Bodies and Other Stories Self Released
6. Joe Euro Souvenir Joe Euro Music Buy From CDBaby
7. Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard Farscape SPV Recordings
8. Darshan Ambient From Pale Hands to Weary Eyes Lotuspike

9. Biomusique The 10,000 Steps Kosmic Music

10. Sumner McKane What A Great Place to Be Don’t Hit Your Sister Records
11. California Guitar Trio Echoes Inner Knot
12 Kevin Bartlett Glow in the Dark Aural Gratification
13. Sacred Earth Wind of the East Red Feather Music

14. Rodrigo Rodriguez Beyond the Times KZN Records
15. V/A Perceived Distances Dataobscura
16. Steve Roach Empetus Projekt
17. Ronn McFarlane Indigo Road Dorian
18. Hans-Jaochim Roedelius & Tim Story Inlandish High Wire Records

19. David Cullen Guitar Travels Solid Air
20. David Arkenstone Echoes of Light and Shadow Gemini Sun Records
21. David Pritchard Vertical Eden Morphic Resonance Music
22. Niyaz Nine Heavens Six Degrees
23. Joan Jeanrenaud Strange Toys Talking House Records
24. Forastiere Why Not? Candyrat Records
25. Fernwood Almeria Self Released
Ottmar Liebert’sThe Scent of Light

was the Echoes CD of the Month
for August 2008











A Meeting of Icons: Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard

July 22, 2008

It’s difficult when you fall out of love with an artist. We all have musicians whose work has been central to our lives, who we’ve followed from the beginning of their careers and absorbed everything they’ve released as if it were a gift from heaven. Klaus Schulze and Lisa Gerrard are like that for me. I’ve followed Klaus since Dan Kelly played me Picture Music in 1975. I remember the phone lines lit solid for all 25 minutes of “Mindphaser” when I played the Moondawn album on WXPN‘s Diaspar in 1976. MoondawnMirage and X  remain among my favorite albums. But since the mid-1980s, Klaus’s music has seemed less important, less relevant and often, just not very well crafted. In an era of tighter time constraints and shorter attention spans, he persists in creating epic works spanning 30 minutes to hours, often improvising aimlessly and endlessly on relentless sequencer patterns or glacial chords.  Klaus does not subscribe to the “less is more” concept.

  The Silver Tree Lisa Gerrard has been a true love since the second Dead an Dance album, Spleen & Ideal.  Her singing remains singular and transcendent, despite so many imitators. I’ve written reams of praises to her, but in recent years, Gerrard has become more turgid as well. As early as The Mirror Pool and as recently as The Silver Tree  there are many transcendent moments, but I often feel like I’m sitting in church dusty and musty litanies shrouded in suffocating portent.   Lisa has abandoned the dramatic arc that marks her best work, often devolving into mood and mysticism that is often, but not always salvaged by her supralingua dialects and siren angel of a voice.


 When I heard these two musicians were getting together on a double CD called Farscape, I hoped they’d bring out the best in each other.  The opening 22 minute opus, “Liquid Coincidence (1)” drops you into the space cathedral of their sound with Klaus laying down those big sweeping synth chords while Lisa channels Abbess Hildegard von Bingen.   It’s an auspicious start, but the gambit gets tiring at about 30 minutes into the CD,  when I realized that Klaus and Lisa were reinforcing each other’s worst tendencies, heading down the rabbit hole of unfocussed abstraction that has sucked the life out of them both in recent years. As it wears on,  Farscape begins sounding less like inspired collaboration and more like a John Cagian Indeterminacy experiment, with both musicians playing in separate rooms,  rather than a holy communion of sound.   According to Klaus’s liner notes, he created the basic tracks and Lisa came in and sang for several days.  Her performances were all reputedly one-take improvisations which isn’t necessarily bad, except they sound like it.  His synth tracks are sometimes gorgeous, occasionally rhythmic, always sweeping, yet never quite ascending to a compositional level, more like soundscapes that ebb and flow. Lisa sings across them, sending out chants and incantations, and though I can hear she’s dialed into the moment, there’s no sense of construction or flow, only a string of isolated, unmediated, unedited fragments.  Klaus lays down the big synth chords to nowhere while Lisa deploys her Gothic muse.

I could make a case for this being an enveloping soundscape that takes you deep into an immersive world of sound where Klaus Schulze navigates a roadmap of the inner mind while Lisa Gerrard negotiates the darkest reaches of the soul, each staring into the abyss and jumping in head first. But the portentousness of it all is as lugubrious as Jabba the Hutt on Quaaludes, just prettier.

I feel like I’ve just turned my back on the church, but the fact is, I remain a loyal fan, because I can still hear the elements of genius and soul that attracted me to both artists, I’ll be trying to edit out some choice chunks to play on Echoes, because they are there.  Meanwhile, Klaus’s early catalog has been reissued in beautiful packaging, although the decision to not remaster the recordings was Ill-advised.

You can hear a profile of Lisa Gerrard here.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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