Lisa Gerrard / Patrick Cassidy Immortal Memory

It’s been five years since her last proper solo album, but Lisa Gerrard has been far from idle. After working on soundtracks for movies like Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Whale Rider and many more, she has returned to making music purely for the ears. 1998’s Duality saw her team up with Pieter Bourke, and this time she has partnered with Irish composer Patrick Cassidy, who provides the stunning orchestral arrangements that accompany Gerrard’s breathtaking voice. The album even features one of Cassidy’s own compositions — the first time Gerrard has sung someone else’s music. Much of her previous material, particularly during the ten years as half of Dead Can Dance, focused on exploring different musical cultures and rhythms. Immortal Memory, on the other hand, finds Gerrard focusing on a particular style that has won her worldwide attention — grand, sweeping traditional string arrangements and melodies that are guaranteed to stir you at the deepest level. Pieces like "Amergin’s Invocation” and "Elegy” are inspiring, warming, and heartbreaking all at the same time. Gerrard rarely sings in English and this album is no exception. On "The Song of Amergin” she re-works a thousand year-old Gaelic poem and on "Abwoon” she sings in Aramaic, the ancient language of Christ. As a listener, however, not understanding the language is irrelevant. The strength of the music and the power of her voice make this one of the most significant musical releases for the New Year, and the crowning achievement of her long career. (4AD)