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Lisa Gerrard – “Balibo OST” Review

Lisa Gerrard’s recent soundtracks have seen a real return back to her roots and that starts with the astounding “Balibo Soundtrack”. There is a CD version, but the one available for download from Lisa’s own site is the one I purchased as it appears to contain extended versions and bonus tracks.

Opening with “Childhood Reflections”, what I like about this piece is that it creates a certain space in time. Everything from the echoed vocals, the mummering dulcimer and soft strings feel slowed down to a crawl. It really envelopes you in before “A Heart That Never Rests” takes over with its more melodic approach. Pianos, acoustic guitars and string arrangements lead the way in a swirling ambience that gives you an overarching sense of achievement and journeyship. By the time the percussion joins in and the guitar lead takes over the piece takes an epic scale feel and really stands out for it.

“The Hidden Country” is a dark brooding track with a great use of finger flicking on guitar strings and some fantastic percussive work before at half way it switches mood completely, like its been revealed in all its beauty, into an ever decreasing circle of instrumentation. A quite abstract piece but one that’s very interesting to listen to and gain something from each listen. “The Interrogation” is an echoed ambient piece that showcases Lisa’s vocal ability to make so much from so little.

“The Invasion” is a very dramatic and emotional song. Lisa’s vocals swell and build and then float like the wind against a string backdrop. There’s a real distance to her voice in this soundtrack that gives her extra depth and substance, as if she’s really watching from above. It’s quite incredible the emotion that can be evoked from this track as it meanders its way through all kinds of chords, notes ans scales without sitting still.

“Leaving for East Timor” is a fantastic track full of percussive embellishments and relaxed electric and acoustic guitars. The result is a bittersweet journey track. Not quite easy listening as it has an unsettling shadow cast over it, it straddles relaxed mood music and epic drama in an ususal manner and it makes this song really interesting to listen to and you get different things out of it depending on your mood. “Mission School” is a short glass interlude that is designed to throw you off kilter and does so successfully.

“A Passage For Truth” is a slowly revolving piece that slowly unsettles and creeps around the back of your ears. The intial guitars are quite sweet but the more instruments that sweep in, the more discordant it becomes. The key to the greatness of this track is its complex intricate layering that makes the overall flow sound simple but theres so much going on underneath. Great track.

“Restless Intuition” is a short almost cowboy-western track which is strangely not as out of place as it sounds and reminds me of the “A Thousand Roads” soundtrack while “Solitude” is a vocal led ambient piece to lead you into the 9 minute epic “A Time Unveiled”. This track begins with beautifully tuned percussion and heatfelt string solos before the big drums come in and lead a mass march of percussion and swirling vocals that come to the big climactic finale of strings. It’s done in such a way the track is always moving and even though the end result doesn’t stay for too long, its rewarding and you feel like you’ve gone places without leaving your seat.

“Waters Run Deep” is the closing bonus track which is a dramatic track that encircles the whole album in three and half a minutes and is a fine closer.

“Balibo” is a beast of a soundtrack. There’s no immediate hook melody here but Lisa Gerrard knows exactly how to create a feeling in the space of music and let you live it. Each song is really heavily crafted and while some seem minimal at first, there’s actually lots of sounds making a bigger single sound and so there is a lot of hidden depth. More instrumental than vocal, it’s closer to A Thousand Roads than anything else she’s done but this soundtrack has drenched in emotion and that’s just how we like them! Great stuff.

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