Ireland has long been associated with iconic 4AD group Dead Can Dance, so we are delighted today to present the new ‘Burn’ album from frontwoman / wonder weaver Lisa Gerrard and composer/instrumentalist Jules Maxwell, for which they teamed up with uber-cool producer James Chapman (MAPS), this long-play is being released via Atlantic Curve, part of the Schubert Music Europe.
Rewind seven years ago, when Lisa met Jules Maxwell, then an Irish theatre composer, in relation to Dead Can Dance. Their artistic relationship began to bud when the two collaborated in songwriting for the ‘The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices (Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares)’. Daryl Bamonte, head of Atlantic Curve, introduced them to Chapman for his creative input, which ultimately led to him producing this album – and three is the magic number, as they say. This collaboration represents a dynamic development for all three of these artists.
Jules Maxwell explains: “‘Burn’ was never planned to be an album. Like many joyous things in life, it grew slowly and unexpectedly. One song at a time. The seeds had been planted by Lisa and I whilst we were working on songs for another album but didn’t begin to flower until months, years later. Without Daryl Bamonte’s tenacious encouragement and James Chapman’s sonic vision, it would not have come to fruition at all. Lisa Gerrard is in my opinion one of the most important singers of her generation and it continues to be an enormous privilege for me to be working with her.”
With Chapman joining the duo as producer, ideas generated freely and over time, a distinct sound for their work began to emerge. Their focus was to create something that was both euphoric and compelling; more inventive than what they had worked on separately in the past. From gentle beginnings, each track builds and intensifies, creating a hypnotic experience to listen to from start to finish. With Lisa remaining in Australia, Jules adding his keys and percussion from France, and James bringing new light to the sound from England, the three were literally worlds apart, but those worlds fused in this music.
“It was such a huge honour for me to work with Lisa and Jules in making this album, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. My role was really to build on the ideas, and it was a pleasure to work with such rich and exciting material. I was very grateful to be given the freedom to explore the production, there was a real trust between everyone from the beginning, which made things very exciting for me. Having such freedom from the start enabled me to be more confident in the ideas, which in turn created more possibilities with the choices that were made. When I listen to the album now, I feel that freedom and excitement within each track,” says James Chapman.
Seven specially commissioned films accompany this album, gradually being released one by one. The latest video for ‘Deshta (Forever)’ was directed by cinematographer Michal Sosna, following one for the title track ‘Noyalain (Burn)’ by Polish director Jacob Chelkowski, proving more than a little provocative in these days of Covid as it portrays the simple, traumatic act of touching.
This has been an extremely busy year for Jules Maxwell, who also released his sophomore solo album ‘Nocturnes’ in March, marking the launch of London-based Archangelo Recordings. This beautifully melancholic collection of instrumental pieces was written and recorded over the past four years, much of it in collaboration with the acclaimed UK-based Vincent Dance Theatre.
On this occasion, we are delighted to present a track-by-track commentary by Jules Maxwell: “What we have created still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up from time to time. Listen to it in one go from beginning to end if you can.”
- Heleali (The Sea Will Rise) – This always felt like it had to be the opening of the album for me. It cycles around a simple elegant chord progression. Ebbing. Flowing. Swelling. Out into deep water.
- Noyalain (Burn) – The track has an urgency to begin with. More than any other song on the album it paints vivid pictures in my imagination. Of fire and light and love.
- Deshta (Forever) – Deshta has a dark brooding quality. James Chapman’s production has helped draw out a raw earthiness to the piece and Michal Sosna’s accompanying video is brilliantly disquieting and human at the same time.
- Aldavyeem (A Time To Dance) – This song dances around intertwining elements. The 7/8 feel keeps it on its toes.
- Orion (The Weary Huntsman) – James Chapman did an amazing job on this one. The build from start to finish is breathtaking.
- Keson (Until My Strength Returns) – This again is an intense, emotional listen for me. I love the final note and how it lasts.
- Do So Yol (Gather The Wind) – I always imagined uillean pipes at the end of this. Hibernian and grand. If the album begins by the shore, it ends in the mountains.