documentary

Soundtrack review: Ashes and snow (Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy – 2008)

ashes-and-snow7

“Ashes and snow” is a stunning and ambitious visual project. It is an installation of photographic artworks and films all housed in a special Nomadic museum built just for this exhibition. It is a poetic journey that explores the shared sensibilities of men and animals. I have seen the one hour long movie and it moved me. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne and filmed in a brown / sepia kind of way, it was the kind of visual experience you can never forget. Everything moved slowly, everything was a dream, and the music… oh the music. If there ever was a score fitted perfectly with the on screen beauty, it was this one. Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy wrote a composition so sensible, so beautiful that it felt like an organic part of that documentary or, better said, poetic narrative. The images flowed in a dreamy and fantasy setting… I remember rivers… people in boats quietly drifting… animals drinking and bathing in the same waters… and a music that could very well be used to hypnotize. This review is part of “Female composer month”.

Lisa Gerrard is a special kind of artists. Her unique sound and unparalleled depth of emotion is something you can pick out of a thousand cues. You know it’s a Lisa Gerrard composition when you hear it. Many movie fans think of her and imagine her angelic voice and haunting vocalizations but for “Ashes and snow”, with Patrick Cassidy’s help (you remember him from the brilliant “Calvary” score of last year) we discover her amazing talent as a composer as well. The music of “Ashes and snow” is both timeless and out of time. This is not background music… at least not for doing everyday activities or driving or working out. No, this is background music for dreaming, for resting, for imagining the most beautiful things you have ever imagined. There is a slight African undertone in the instrumentations and in some vocal parts (such as the prayer “Mater mea”) and this makes me dream of hot summer sunsets and warm waters.

Every Lisa Gerrard score, brilliant as it is, has a pinnacle… And peak that is so beautiful that makes even the other cues pale in comparison. In “Ashes and snow” it had to be the cue where Lisa isn’t silent anymore. This is the bridge that will unite film music fans and world music fans; this is the gate through which all the mesmerized souls will enter the world of this score. “Vespers” is deep, rich, moving and heavy. It will drop and anchor in your soul and it will silence everything else. And yet it is a simple and melodic composition… Perfect and poignant piano notes are the ground on which Lisa’s voice flourishes and nourishes.

This is a Lisa Gerrard score and the ones who know Dead can dance and her previous film contributions will now what to expect. I am a huge fan and this sound suits me. Lisa can do no wrong and every album she’s part of is a blessing.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 32 / 50

Album excellence: 64%

Highlights:

Devota

Slow River

Mater Mea

Vespers

Slow Dawn

Elephant Pond

The Absence Of Time

Wisdom

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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