As one half of Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard explored wonderful sonic territory and created music which wandered between re-imagined world sounds and soundtrack style arrangements, she painted with cinematic and widescreen musical colours, and balanced the ethereal and the neo-classical. She has since been associated with numerous big budget soundtracks but is equally likely to be found exploring niche world sounds and highlighting cultural traditions.
As the name suggests The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices falls squarely in the latter territory, a brilliant splicing of the countries traditional sounds and a sweeping arrangement with Gerrard’s voice threading through but always happy to defer to the sumptuous vocal arrangements which act as the platform upon which she works.
It is a piece which steps between worlds, the timeless musical footprint of the region is at its heart and it is also music which could easily have been found on a Dead Can Dance album, especially the later, more musical ethnically linked ones such as Into The Labyrinth or Spiritchaser. It also offers the same wonderful “vocals as music” feeling as the likes of Karl Jenkins, though less intentionally, but unless you are fluent in Bulgarian then the appreciation has to be sonic rather than lyrical and that is a wonderful problem to have as the overall effect is stunning. Maybe the lack of understanding means you appreciate its hidden subtlety and musical beauty rather than focusing on the communication of language.
So of course the piece is stunning, this is Lisa Gerrard after all and that is generally her default setting. If you want something that transcends language and instead speaks in a more universal musical form, that of emotion and ethereality, then she is your go to girl. But you always knew that anyway.