Friday 15 November 2019

Back from the dead and dancing again

John Meagher

John Meagher

album of the week

dead can dance

Anastasis

(PIAS Recordings)

HHHHI

This is the first Dead Can Dance album since the much admired Spiritchaser in 1996 and it feels like an event. There was genuine excitement when Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard announced details of Anastasis a few months back, and an October 28 show in Dublin's Bord Gais Energy Theatre -- the final night of a 22-date European tour -- sold out in a day.

Anastasis is the Greek word for resurrection and it sees the pair -- who originally formed Dead Can Dance in Melbourne in 1981 -- delve once again into their cinematic brand of neo-classical music that has been often copied but rarely equalled.

While it's undeniably true that Anastasis offers no radical departures, this stately, hugely atmospheric and consistently compelling album suggests that Perry and Gerrard have retained that elusive chemistry that served them so well in a recording union that bore such fruit between 1984 and 1996.

DCD have long embraced a passion for world music -- it's there in their solo work, especially Gerrard's movie soundtrack offerings which include Gladiator and The Insider -- and here the sounds of North Africa, as well as Greece and Turkey, permeate lengthy tracks such as Agape that unfurl with a languid grace.

The band's trademark gothic sound is rarely far from the surface and, at every turn, there's a sense of ornate music that's been meticulously burnished.

Perry's sonorous vocals pepper a handful of songs, but it's Gerrard's ethereal singing that's most affecting, especially on the beguiling Anabasis.

Her wonderfully expressive voice remains a thing of beauty and a reminder why DCD first inspired such devotion.

Although the pair got back together for a world tour in 2005, plans for a new album were put on the backburner.

With Perry living in Belturbet, Co Cavan, and Gerrard in Melbourne, geography conspired to keep them apart for years, until Gerrard found the time to come to Ireland to record with her old songwriting partner in his Quivvy Studio, which is housed in the old, long disused church that Perry now calls home.

KEY TRACKS Agape; Anabasis; Return of the She-King

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