Album Review of Hiraeth by Lisa Gerrard & David Kuckhermann

 



Legendary Australian recording artist Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance fame) and renowned world percussionist David Kuckhermann combine their complimentary talents on Hiraeth, an album which takes its name from a Welsh word meaning ‘nostalgia’ or ‘homesickness’. Comprised of twelve compositions that can be likened to aural vestiges of ancient rituals, Hiraeth highlights Gerrard singing in her ethereal contralto style of indecipherable glossolalia, while Kuckhermann transmits the hypnotic resonances of handpan amid other organic instruments. Featuring contributions by multi-instrumentalists Nadishana and Cye Wood, along with Hristina Beleva playing a Bulgarian instrument called gadulka which closely mirrors a violin, the musical soul of Hiraeth sounds beautifully Balkan and often gypsy-like to my ears.

From the opening piece, “The Beginning”, we are met with an intriguing sound-collage of handpan glistening upon tribal percussive rhythms, as Gerrard’s amorphous vocal melodies strike a perfectly paradoxical balance between ecstasy and mournfulness. Various world-folk instruments enter the picture at various scenes, most notably Beleva’s gadulka which lends subtly suspenseful peaks along the way, as well as what sounds like a duduk coming to the forefront on a few passages. One of my favorite pieces is “Rattlesnake”, which not only makes creative use of a shaker instrument to deftly mimic the shaking of a rattlesnake’s tail, but likewise pleasantly recalls Gerrard’s work with Pieter Bourke on their collaborative album Duality. Also noteworthy is the meditative instrumental “Time Passes”, which exudes a smoky atmosphere of improvised cymbals, gong, rainstick and shakers all seemingly giving a voice to ancient relics. This piece is followed by the particularly haunting “Armira”, a vocalized soundscape wherein whirling ghostly intonations effectively bring-to-mind the flickering light of a lantern peering through a fog. On “Forgotten Language”, Gerrard’s idiosyncratic inflections seductively slither upon a languid tribal groove, effectively conveying a loungey otherworldliness not unlike her memorable (albeit less dramatic) performance on “Space Weaver” from The Silver Tree album.

Effectively taking the listener on a timeless journey through gothic-hued soundscapes of tribalesque neoclassicism, the sun seemingly never quite rises on Hiraeth’s mesmerizingly nocturnal environment of otherworldly beauty, mystery and sacredness! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit Lisa Gerrard and David Kuckhermann's websites. This album is also available at Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.

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