Michael C. Lund
15 Alma Road
London SW18 1AA
17 May, 1998
Lisa Gerrard & Pieter Bourke
1. Shadow Magnet
3. Forest Veil
4. The Comforter
5. The Unfolding
6. Pilgrimage Of Lost Children
7. The Human Game
8. The Circulation Of Shadows
10. Nadir (synchronicity)
4AD has just released Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can
Dance second solo project. Duality is a collaboration with Pieter
Bourke of Eden and Soma fame, and it is an
excursion into the celestial musical beauty that Gerrard has become famous for. Bourke
has previously worked with Gerrard as a percussionist on her first solo album Mirror
Pool, and on Dead Can Dance's tour in support of the Spiritchaser
album. Gerrard has commented that the recording process of Duality was one
of rare synchronicity, and that her and Bourke experienced moments of spiritual
elevation while creating the music. The songs on the album stand as proof of Gerrard's
statement. It is a CD of rare musical balance, serenity and resolve; and the prevailing
atmosphere is one of insight and resolve.
The ten tracks on Duality
vary greatly in length, and have the diversity in tone and instrumentation that made Dead
Can Dance's Towards The Within such a successful album. Gerrard
and Bourke gracefully move from rhythmically oriented songs with strong ethnic
leanings to melodically rich, neo-classical pieces; at times they fuse these diverse
musical influences, and occasionally they rely on their voices as the sole instruments. In
a sense, Duality is a reprise of all the various musical modes and styles Gerrard
has explored throughout her career, and perhaps the first single release from the album --
"The Human Game" -- points out a new direction altogether.
The album version of "The
Human Game" begins with an extended introduction of the sound of waves underscoring a
child's voice and laughter. A very beautiful and nostalgic theme fades in, Gerrard
performs on her instrument of choice (yang t'che), and delivers a rare vocal performance
in English. A deep, hollow beat punctuates Gerrard's vocals, and other
percussional elements weave into the streaming flow of the song. "The Human
Game" not only stands out because of the English vocals, but also for its
accessibility on the musical level. The single could very well become a mainstream hit --
without insulting fans of Gerrard's previous releases.
Aside from "The Human
Game," the most striking songs on the album are the rhythmically oriented
"Shadow Magnet" and "Tempest," and "The Unfolding" and
"Sacrifice" both of which are based in arrangements of classical design, and
propelled by strong thematic elements.
The other half of the songs on Duality
are all rather brief, and while powerful in their own rights, seem to have ben arranged
around the longer pieces largely as moments of relief after the strong emotional impact of
the songs mentioned above. "The Comforter" and "The Circulation Of
Shadows" are both performed a capella, and have about them a soothing,
spiritual serenity. "Forest Veil" achieves a similar effect with its reliance on
bird song and chimes as accompaniment to the dominantly choral arrangement.
"Pilgrimage of Lost
Children" and "Nadir" are the most ethnically charged songs on the album,
and rely strongly on a number of warm percussional instruments. "Nadir,"
especially is a very joyful and compelling piece, restoring calm, and perfectly closing
the album, after the dirge-like, tour-de-force "Sacrifice."
Duality began as a solo
project by Gerrard based on the life of Christ. Later, when Bourke
became involved, the project moved in other directions, but the album remains a very
unified and structured effort. It is a great pleasure to listen to, and one that refines Gerrard's
musical language, rather than moving in any new directions. Duality will disappoint
none of Gerrard's or Dead Can Dance's old fans, but is likely to
win many new ears.