On the cover of Anastasis, Dead Can Dance’s first album in 16 years: a field of sunflowers, ripened, and then blackened, by the sun, standing with sad, slightly crowned heads. Less dead than dormant, the heads and stems will one day be chopped, but then via the roots, will return. For Anastasis is the Greek word for ‘resurrection’ and the seemingly dead will dance again.“I thought ‘Anastasis’ was a good title given our reunion,” explains Brendan Perry, who, with Lisa Gerrard, formed the band in Melbourne, Australia in 1981. The pair released seven studio albums and one live album, before going their own ways after 1996’s “Spiritchaser”. “’Anastasis’ also means ‘in between two stages’,” he adds. “Regeneration comes with the next season.”
It's natural to suspect that In Concert is simply the hastily constructed live album cash-in that comes after the long-awaited reunion (2012's Anastasis was the group's first studio album in 16 years), but it's actually a sweet souvenir of the world fusion duo's return to the stage, tastefully presented and impeccably recorded. Rarely do live albums sound so luxurious and warm, but besides being a fine demo disc for high-end speakers, this chamber concert on wax offers some more comfortable, more alive versions of Anastasis' studio material, along with a quick stroll through the group's early work.
Dead Can Dance (sometimes referred to as DCD) is a world fusion music band that was formed in Melbourne, Australia, in August 1981, by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. Dead Can Dance combine elements of European folk music – particularly music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance – with ambient pop and worldbeat flourishes. Their songs are of lost beauty, regret and sorrow, inspiration and nobility, and of the everlasting human goal of attaining a meaningful existence.
Perry and Gerrard continued to experiment and improve with The Serpent's Egg, as much a leap forward as Spleen and Ideal was some years previously. As with that album, The Serpent's Egg was heralded by an astounding first track, "The Host of Seraphim." Its use in films some years later was no surprise in the slightest – one can imagine the potential range of epic images the song could call up – but on its own it's so jaw-droppingly good that almost the only reaction is sheer awe. Beginning with a soft organ drone and buried, echoed percussion, Gerrard then takes flight with a seemingly wordless invocation of power and worship – her vocal control and multi-octave range, especially towards the end, has to be heard to be believed. Nothing else achieves such heights, but everything gets pretty darn close, a deserved testament to the band's conceptual reach and abilities.
Dead Can Dance is the debut studio album by Australian musical act Dead Can Dance. It was released on 27 February 1984 by record label 4AD. This album differs greatly from later Dead Can Dance releases in its incorporation of post-punk and gothic rock musical styles. AllMusic commented on the album's sound: "Bearing much more resemblance to the similarly gripping, dark early work of bands like the Cocteau Twins and The Cure than to the later fusions of music that would come to characterize the duo's sound, Dead Can Dance is as goth as it gets in many places."
With this amazing album, Dead Can Dance fully took the plunge into the heady mix of musical traditions that would come to define its sound and style for the remainder of its career. The straightforward goth affectations are exchanged for a sonic palette and range of imagination. Calling it "haunting" and "atmospheric" barely scratches even the initial surface of the album's power. The common identification of the duo with a consciously medieval European sound starts here – quite understandable, when one considers the mystic titles of songs, references to Latin, choirs, and other touches that make the album sound like it was recorded in an immense cathedral.
Their reputation growing by leaps and bounds, including a huge underground following in the U.S. – they were able to tour there even without one domestic release available, while at one point Dead Can Dance was the biggest selling band in 4AD's history – Perry and Gerrard once again did the business with Aion. Its cover taken from Bosch, Aion's medievalism was worn more openly than ever before, with songs adapted from centuries-old material. The beautiful, entrancing "Saltarello," with lead performance by what sounds like an old wind instrument, comes from an Italian dance of the 14th century, while the mysterious moods of "The Song of the Sibyl" derive from 16th-century Catalonia. The group's command of not merely recording possibilities – witness the exquisite layering of vocals on the opening "The Arrival and the Reunion" – but of musical traditions, instruments, and more from around the world was arguably never stronger. Gerrard's vocals in particular have an even stronger, richer feeling than before, not merely able to command with its power but softly calm and seduce.