Lisa Gerrard was so indelibly and obviously a part of what made Dead Can Dance what it is that it's little wonder that The Mirror Pool feels essentially like a continuation of that band's haunting, vast atmospheres. Without Brendan Perry's deep, rolling voice as a contrast, Gerrard's sky-sweeping abilities transform the entire recording into a truly mystical experience. The use of Australia's Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra on many tracks continues the tradition of strong arrangements in Gerrard's work, thanks to the abilities of John Bonnar, who conducts as well as performs at other points. Future collaborator Pieter Bourke contributes everything from vocals to tabla and claps, while other guests add similar touches. Gerrard handles everything else, as always demonstrating her excellent abilities on the yang t'chin, while when it comes to singing she again is practically peerless, her multi-octave range demonstrating both power and astonishing control. If there is a slight criticism of The Mirror Pool, it's that as a collection it's almost too overwhelming -- the contrast between more direct and loftier performances on Dead Can Dance releases add immeasurably to their impact. It's hard to argue with the end results, though -- Gerrard's singing is just so rich and dramatic that even the smallest complaint seems puny. Her overdubbed choir effects are particularly striking, especially when she's exploring different styles within the same song. Several cuts make their studio debut after having been part of the Dead Can Dance live repertoire, as partially captured on Toward the Within; two standouts in particular are "Sanvean" and "Persian Love Song." Others, such as "Ahjon" and the immediately following "Glorafin" seem to derive from Gerrard's Dead Can Dance piece "Bird." There's even an attractive adaptation of Handel's composition "Largo," which suits the mood perfectly, and on which Gerrard's vocals are absolutely perfect.
The Mirror Pool Review
by Ned Raggett