The mythical music of Dead Can Dance takes you back to the time of gods and goddesses, Minotaurs and human sacrifices. Their sound had been classified as dark wave, ethereal wave, gothic rock and fusion world. It’s all of that with a touch of mystical Middle Eastern influences, pagan poetry and the ability to take you to the darkest depths of your imagination.
Lisa Gerrard’s mezzo-soprano vocals have been called “Glossolalia,” a form of speaking in tongues. She wails in a captivating, indecipherable language that turns her voice into a musical instrument, reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky.” Fortunately, her partner, Brendan Perry, prefers to parlay in perplexing, but more decipherable English.
It takes a lot of nerve (and a well-stocked catalog) for DCD to omit arguably their best known song (“The Carnival is Over”), but the duo’s other choices, mostly from their 2012 reunion album, Anastasis (“Resurrection”), are note-perfect, gothic greats. The waves of transcendental synths and marching drums make Perry’s authoritative voice sound like a profound peyote-sucking prophet in the opening cut, “Children of the Sun.” “All in Good Time” sets the listener adrift with a placid, nautical beat and synths that blanket the ears like a tropical breeze.
“Opium” has a hazy, Middle Eastern flavor mixed together with Perry’s sturdy vocals, horror movie synths and Gerrard’s ghostly wailing. With a beat that conjures up the sound of a whip tearing into bare flesh, “Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” is DCD at it’s most sexy, sleazy and sinister.
You may need a decoder ring to understand their lyrics, but their atmospheric arrangements prove Dead Can Dance make innovative music for anyone with an active imagination. Bring out your dead!