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Lisa Gerrard

2007-02-23 15:06
And it isn't synonymous with the concept of 'greatest hits'. It’s actually a credible look at artistic highlights in a career. Not that it’s easy to pick those out of Gerrard’s impressive body of work.

Lisa Gerrard was initially revealed to the world via legendary alternative indie label 4AD, as one half of Dead Can Dance, a musical act that explored old-world composition and instrumentation.

The Australian native is known as a vocal artist – meaning, that often times, there are no lyrics to the musical pieces. Gerrard’s voice and vocalisations are actually used as an instrument, as tone to an esoteric, ethereal soundscape.

Gerrard and Dead Can Dance collaborator Brendan Perry are still regarded as a seminal new-classical indie act, and several of Gerrard’s key performances in the group are captured here, not least the utterly breathtaking “The Host of Seraphim” from the equally awe-inspiring album The Serpent’s Egg (1988).

Most of the rest of the Dead Can Dance inclusions are critically commendable, though the only other obvious presence is “Cantara”, from Within The Realm of the Dying Sun (1987), from which the dramatic “Persephone” is also drawn.

From the medieval-themed Aion (1990) it’s “The Promised Womb”; from Toward the Within (1994) it’s a gloriously executed live take of “Sanvean”; and the dark and brooding “Yulunga” cracks the nod off Into the Labyrinth (1993).

Gerrard’s post-Dead work as a solo artist on The Mirror Pool (1995), with Peter Bourke on Duality (1998) and as a film soundtrack collaborator are also noted. Chief among these are the works with Klaus Beidet and Hans Zimmer for Gladiator – “Elizium” and “Now We Are Free”.

Though more World Music oriented (whatever the retailers mean by "World Music", that is), “Go Forward” from the film Whale Rider feels like the most mercenary of the tracklist – for name-value only.

But that doesn’t detract from a deeply satisfying collection for collectors on a budget.

Even if you’re the true collector who has every Dead Can Dance release on vinyl anyway, but would like a decent ipod collection with updated Gerrard work, this is a classic collection.

But if the prospect of paying upwards of R200 per import disc doesn’t daunt you, you can always benefit from collecting everything by original release.

- Anton Marshall
For once, a compilation spanning 20-odd years works as an album in itself - such is the nature music produced by this Australian enigma. For that, and a sparse but beautifully rendered booklet, Lisa Gerrard reminds us that once upon a time there was a point to the term 'retrospective'.


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