Without being situational or whimsical, Lisa Gerrard's solo debut, The Mirror Pool, is a beautiful exhibit of musical and lingual nostalgia made palatable to modern listeners. It explores the spiritual, cultural, and other essential paths of existence that we have taken once before, and demonstrates what made them invigorating for some, and excrutiating for others.
Dead Can Dance (the name under which Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry have recorded for fifteen years) has taken a break for a while to allow Gerrard and Perry to do solo albums. The Mirror Pool reflects many of the most beautiful aspects of Dead Can Dance while serving as a showcase of her own unique talents, such as producing the album and composing the bulk of the tracks.
Gerrard's sonic sculptures are more diverse than those of DCD's work, which is at least sometimes marked by lyrics in English. She utilizes many of DCD's best musical devices in good taste (particularly the characteristic lament and typical themes of sorrow and loneliness). Yet The Mirror Pool presents Gerrard as the more radical side of DCD, as she has stepped outside the borders within which DCD have experimented so far through her total use of mostly self-fabricated tongues, which she calls "shapes". In effect, this universal language of emotion can easily become the focal point of attention for the listener due to Gerrard's phenomenal vocal talent.
Still, Gerrard's vocals also take a backseat to TMP's many fantastic instrumentals, particularly "Nilleshna", "Werd", and so forth (not to mention significant non-vocal sections within songs). She deserves ample praise for exploring different musical avenues; most tracks have strong classical and ethnic motifs. And it is the emphasis on the musical, not lyrical, strength of the album that makes it so magnificent. Orchestral music was composed by Gerrard on computer, and performed by the Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra, to be recorded live with Gerrard's vocal pieces. The acoustic pieces (done with such instruments as the Greek bouzouki, yang chin, derabukkas, bass tablas, and Indian elephant bells), as well as vocal and sampled works, were recorded in Gerrard's home studio.
Gerrard called the album The Mirror Pool because "it is suggestive of the abstract properties that exist within the entity of music--the properties being those that permit reflection." As the cover indicates (one side of the reflected landscape is sunny, the other cloudy), the album strikes a balance between anguish and rejoicing, order and chaos, beauty and deformity, and proposes that what is seen in a reflection is not always what is expected.
Brendan Perry's solo debut should be out in early '96, and a new Dead Can Dance album is slated for the summer thereafter.