Boomkat Product Review:
Created "by accident", 'It's Not Too Late' pairs legendary Kieslowski wingman Zbigniew Preisner with Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, rousing sacred sounds as a salve for dangerous times. Crucial listening if yr into Vangelis, Eno or, more recently, Lyra Pramuk.
Both prolific soundtrack composers, Preisner and Gerrard had already worked together before they stumbled across the idea for this one. They were traveling in Europe and had visited a tiny synagogue in Bobowa, a small town in Southern Poland, when they were struck by the building's incredible acoustics. Gerrard sang, and Priesner knew they needed to record something; he put together a series a themes and Gerrard followed his lead, improvising for 45 minutes. "It was supposed to be summer fun," Preisner says. But it took six years for him to revisit the recordings. When he listened back, he realised that it was Gerrard's vocals that stood out, not his themes. So back in the studio, he took her lead this time, following the vocals and recording a new accompaniment using synths, piano from Dominik Wania, Magdalena Pluta's cello and sax from Jerzy Główczewski.
It's Gerrard's enigmatic voice that still soars above all else on the finished album. She sounds possessed, and the fact that she was captured in a place of worship isn't lost - there's a liturgical quality to many of her performances, but that's in sharp focus here. Preisner's response is restrained; we already know how capable he is of writing eloquent, emotional treatments, and he sounds as if he's in his element here. The natural reverb of the building carries Gerrard's monastic cries in the first few moments of 'Hear Me Out', and when Preisner replies, it's with willowy, celestial pads. There's nothing too drastic or bombastic, rather it sounds like singing bowls in the distance, accenting Gerrard's spine-tingling performance.
If there's one perfect comparison, it's Vangelis's '12 O'Clock', a collaboration with Vana Verouti that matches her spirited Balkan wails with woozy analog drones. Gerrard similarly evokes the folk and church music of the old world with her voice, and Preisner is careful not to smudge that energy. She sings unaccompanied at times on 'Believe in Yourself', leaving Preisner to fill in the gaps with distant organ throbs, before Główczewski adds some moody, Badalementi-esque warmth.
The album is remarkably varied too, Gerrard grazes various techniques on the title track, battering down borders as she absorbs elements from First Nations folk music, Celtic traditional song and orthodox church music. On 'If Dreams Were Life', Preisner steps into the spotlight, orchestrating an emotive theme with cello, organ and synth that balances the rest of the album's velveteen lavishness.