Lisa Gerrard/Patrick Cassidy:
isa Gerrard has
come a long way from her days as half of Dead Can Dance. As a composer of soundtracks,
shes won a Golden Globe for her score for Gladiator and contributed to
or scored such films as Black Hawk Down, The Insider, and Whale
But Gerrard continues
to explore World Music, especially from the Middle East and Ireland. Her new
album on 4AD Records, Immortal Memory, is a soundtrack for the mind, incorporating
flavors from many cultures and making use of both electronics and the formidable
instrument that is her own voice.
Immortal Memory teams Gerrard with Patrick Cassidy, considered Irelands
foremost contemporary composer. Like Gerrard, who has moved from the world of
Rock to that of orchestrated music, Cassidy went from early piano studies to
playing in a rock band with his brother, and later drew upon his familys
Celtic roots (he grew up speaking the old Irish language) to create compositions
based upon the archetypal Irish myths of Deirdre and The Children of Lir.
Immortal Memory opens with The Song of Amergin, a poem reputed
in Irish myth to be the first utterance of a mortal on Irish land. (Amergin,
a Milesian warrior, conquered Irelands ruling gods, the Tuatha De Danaan).
The liner notes feature the poem in Irish Gaelic as well as English. One can
almost hear the sound of the sea tossing on the rocks when Gerrard sings these
words. Two tracks later, Gerrard and Cassidy give us Amergins Invocation,
which like many of Gerrards compositions, does not seem to have audible
words. Its not the words that matter here though, but the mood. Old castles
on hilltops, wounded warriors shuffling along dusty roads, the fear of unknown
gods and spirits - the music invokes all of this, giving us a trip back in time
to the early Middle Ages.
We get a taste of another culture with Abwoon (Our Father,) which
is a musical setting of the Lords Prayer in Aramaic, the ancient language
of the Middle East and native tongue of Jesus. Here too, the Aramaic lyric and
translation have been provided in the liner notes, but as with the Gaelic, dont
expect the sound of the words to resemble their appearance in print. Gerrard
gives thanks to two phoneticists for helping her with these languages.
Gerrard also finds meaning in the mere use of recording effects. On Paradise
Lost, the sound fades in and out; her voice at times sounds so far away
that you may be tempted to turn up the volume. She uses the extraordinary range
of her voice as an instrument in songs like I Asked For Love where
she achieves some very low notes indeed.
The album ends with a hymn, Psallit In Aure Dei, which is Latin
for Make Music in Gods Ear. The Latin lyric would seem to
sum up the mood and effect of the whole album. Non clamor, sed amor.
Dont make noise, make love.