As every student of Greek mythology will know, Dionysus was the son of the mortal Greek Princess Semele and was fathered by Zeus, but after Semele’s death (of fright after Zeus revealed his Godly power to her) Zeus took the unborn Dionysus and attached him to his thigh until his birth.
Pretty grand stuff, even for the Greeks.
This album, by London-based Australian duo Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, is written around the myth and legacy of Dionysus but, to my ears, it’s so much more. The album is split into two ‘acts’, each over 15 minutes in length and it’s sounds like an audio journey into history and geography.
Act One begins with ‘Sea Borne’ and has such grandeur and cinematic awareness that you can almost picture an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh surveying the landscape while slaves and labourers drag and position mighty rocks towards the under-construction Pyramids as the white sun bears down. The tempo and feel of the song put me in mind of hundreds of feet pressing into the sand while ropes are pulled, and whips are cracked.
‘Liberator of Minds’ has the gentle lapping of water as the introduction, we’ve moved away from the sand and dust of the desert onto the banks of the river Nile or the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, palm trees slowly shift, and barges travel silently as the music rolls and pounds with traditional North African percussion and chants.
It feels as if I’m writing a review for an album firmly cemented in World Music but this is so much more than that, yes it takes it’s influence and energy from Africa and the Middle East but this is music to lose yourself in, a journey to far off lands from forgotten times taken from the comfort of your living room or headphones, this takes the sounds of Moroccan markets, from traditional folk, from electronic music, from private prayers and carefully, and beautifully moulds and shapes it into something so well produced that it’s easy to find yourself lost in it’s complex avenues and passages.
Two years in the making this album is interesting, exciting, powerful and could possibly nudge its way into your favourite albums of 2018.