One of the unexpected surprises of going to see Dead Can Dance was hearing their opening act David Kuckhermann. His percussive skills are top notch as he tamed his hang drum. It also made me aware of an album that I had completely missed! ‘Hiraeth’ was released in 2018 and is a collaboration between David and Lisa Gerrard. Steel drums and Gerrard’s voice – a match in heaven.
The vast majority of the tracks in ‘Hiraeth’ have a mysterious vibe. From the opening notes and riffs of ‘The Beginning’ we are introduced to two voices intertwined. On the one hand, Lisa’s voice feels almost formless. She sings without repetition of phrases but as if she is circling around the hang drums and percussion. On the other hand, the melodic percussion weaves motifs and snake-like tendrils around its melody. Its mystical Persian tone seeps into the more aggressive ‘Rite of Passage’ and then the flowing and unravelling ‘Yukis Lullaby’. The latter track has some inspired wind instruments that support the lilting ever descending stream of notes.
As David Kuckhermann proved, being diverse with his percussion works wonders. The udu pot features heavily in the tense trek of ‘Rattlesnake’. The darbouka features in ‘Orenda’ whilst rattles and gongs fill the sound of ‘Time Passes’. It’s like someone has let him loose inside a fully stocked Hobgoblin or Lark in the Morning store and I love it. He also brings in Hristina Beleva in as a guest on Monolith to play a bowed instrument for some Middle Eastern classical moments.
As the album progresses Lisa’s voice becomes more subdued and less frantic. ‘Armira’ is a vocal collage of hums and ohms that lend themselves to the Samsara soundtrack. The title track is also beautifully put together to, feeling like the most straightforward song structure on the album. The album itself ends with the eleven minute ‘Watchtower’. It’s meditative, slow and deliberate roll up and down various chords feels calming but curious too. It’s like the snaking voice and drum are now wrapping around each other tightly one last time and as the track slows down their own breath is slipping away.
Frankly, I adore this album. It’s one of Lisa Gerrard’s best as it sounds and feels unique to her extensive catalogue. David Kuckhermann is a talented composer and percussionist and the two work well together. I’d love to hear a follow-up or even a three-way collaboration with Marcello Di Francisci. Sublime.
Recommended track: Yukis Lullaby
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