Music: Brendan Perry * * * *
Ark (Cooking Vinyl)
As one half of Dead Can Dance, Brendan Perry was at the forefront of the so-called ethereal-wave trend of the mid-1980s. The band's ambient music, fusing classical with rock, has stood the test of time remarkably well and has proved to be highly influential.
His musical partner Lisa Gerrard has made a name for herself in movie soundtracks. By contrast, Perry has kept a low profile, working away in his residence-cum-recording studio in an old Protestant church in Co Cavan. This album was supposed to be released last year, but personnel problems -- he hired and fired two managers -- delayed it.
Ark is the first Perry music in 11 years and it doesn't disappoint. Offering a compelling distillation of DCD's evocative sound, it feels like a labour of love, with the bulk of the eight tracks meticulously composed. This is a moody, cinematic, textured work, best heard whole. Unlike his previous solo album, which used organic instruments, this is mainly created from samples and synthesisers.
There's a forbidding quality to much of this material, aided, no doubt, by his sonorous, authoritative vocals. The songs touch on such subjects as the futility of war, political corruption and man's damage to the environment. Yet, despite the dystopian sweep, there are plenty of optimistic, hopeful moments, too.
Perry plays Electric Picnic this year, and on this evidence, his set will be a must-see.
Burn it: Wintersun; Babylon