To tell a story using moving images is the realm of cinema. The filmmakers behind Baraka and its sequel Samsara fully understand this - and in these films have done away with words as well. Baraka is a profound non-verbal cinematic work and, among many other things, predicted our society's transformation from one obsessed with words to one increasingly bound to the image. Even so, the musical soundtrack remains a significant component of both films. Quite different is Samsara (62'46") to its predecessor. Composed by Michael Stearns, Lisa Gerrard and Marcello De Francisci the 20 tracks seem less synthetic and more acoustic in nature. Reverberant native flutes sound in the ether above rolling gamelan runs as a lilting female vocal slips through a lovely musical scale. Ceremonial horns and percussion subside in the presence of distant chanting while the next track features propulsive rhythms cycling through on exotic drums and bells, beats and grooves. Ever present throughout this album is the work of Lisa Gerrard. Ranging from compassionate elegies and idyllic nocturnes to dramatic evocations and woeful laments, Gerrard's voice soars gracefully above Marcello De Francisci's shifting arrangements. Moving effortlessly through different registers, Gerrard slides from full-throated exaltation to soft benediction and on to that which seems beyond human range. Samsara attends well to the inner experience but shows what Baraka does not. We are reminded of a world much larger than ourselves - and hope to come away from this aural and sonic experience with a better connection to the phenomenon of life. Samsara is a film and a soundtrack that will last well beyond the moment.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 30 August 2012