Album Review: Lisa Gerrard & Jules Maxwell - 'Burn'

7 May 2021 | 12:48 pm | Guido Farnell

"'Burn' is as essential as anything else in Gerrard’s unique songbook."

More Lisa Gerrard & Jules Maxwell More Lisa Gerrard & Jules Maxwell

James Maxwell joined the Dead Can Dance touring band as their keyboard player some years ago when the outfit was staging a comeback with Anastasis (2012). It seems that their work together ignited the creative sparks that lead to this extended play collaboration. 

Lisa Gerrard has worked with many musicians over the years but the seven tracks on this album see Gerrard and Maxwell’s ideas coalesce and intertwine into a magnificent spellbinding whole. The duo’s aspirations for this album seem to be very closely aligned and each intuitively complements and amplifies what the other is doing for maximal effect. 

Burn approaches us with an air of mystery, offering up tunes that are a chimera of exotic influences. Ambient electronica, folk music from around the world with a special emphasis on Middle Eastern sound, gothic operatics and joyously overwhelming orchestral moments are morphed and woven into each other to create the richly textured fabric of this album. A deep and almost spiritual aesthetic guides this album as they start to work notions of trance music into these tunes. 

The duo use a multitude of cultural references as a starting point but seemingly synthesise these influences into something that sounds strangely new and somewhat alien. Burn creates a reflective space into which listeners can immerse themselves and mediate on the dreamiest of sounds. 

Officially a sexagenarian this year, Gerrard’s voice is as powerful and seductively ethereal as it ever was. In uncertain times this is reassuring for old school Dead Can Dance fans. Burn is as essential as anything else in Gerrard’s unique songbook.

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Find more about Lisa Gerrard here and James Maxwell here.