Both Klaus Schulze and Lisa Gerrard are very well known and respected artists, but their collaborative album, 2008’s Farscape is one that never seems to have gotten a lot of love from fans of either’s respective careers. Klaus Schulze has released over a hundred discs of his experimental electronic meanderings since the 70’s, while Lisa Gerrard is the stunning unique voice behind darkwave legends Dead Can Dance, her own solo career and lots of collaborative projects. Farscape sees her lending her wordless otherworldly vocalisations to electronic music composed by Schulze, and with Gerrard usually singing her against a backdrop of world or classical instrumentation it may not have seemed obvious that her voice would be a good fit for Schulze’s Berlin school style, but with the concept of the huge umbrella of ambient music to be found in the careers of both Dead Can Dance and Schulze, it’s a collaboration that fits together really well. While at two and a half hours long it’s going to be something of a challenge for most music fans, it’s the album that I come back to more than anything else in Schulze’s career.
As it’s Schulze who wrote the music and invited Gerrard to sing over it, one could perhaps consider it to be a Schulze album with a guest vocalist, but whichever way you look at it, it is a collaboration that work’s really well. The layered textures of synth are simple but lap over each other, ebbing and flowing beautifully, moving and evolving slowly for much of the seven tracks here. Liquid Coincidence IV has synthesised brass, with much more of a dramatic classical vibe, and the introduction of a percussive beat in Liquid Coincidence V and VII add a great vibrancy to the music, but for most of the album, the music follows this same fantastic formula – great electronic ambient music to get lost in with Gerrard’s voice over the top. Her vocals are mostly emotional, wordless, operatic vocalisations, soft and low pitched. She doesn’t show as much range as she is certainly capable of, especially in the sheer power shown on Dead Can Dance’s The Serpent Egg, preferring to match the music’s soft tranquillity, rather than being completely dominant as in much of the previous releases throughout her career.Though her vocals are present for much of the album she also leaves space for the music to breathe throughout, meaning they don’t get overbearing and repetitive at any point. Liquid Coincidence VI shows her unusually dispensing with her usual ideoglossia in favour of actual lyrics at points, but they’re still hard to make out, and it’s the sound of the voice, not the message it carries that’s as always the most brilliant part of her contributions.
Overall Farscape might be too long, and perhaps even a little lacking in variety for most listeners, but for fans of slowly evolving electronic ambient where one can get lost in the lovely textures, as well as the one of a kind contralto vocals of Lisa Gerrard, there will be a lot to love here. As mentioned before it’s my go-to album for Schulze, and it’s also one of the highlight’s of Gerrard’s solo career.