Review : Dead Can Dance - Anastasis
PitchforkDead Can Dance, the long-running project of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, are inextricably linked to the 4AD that defined a different generation. Not the current one of Bon Iver or Grimes, but the one of Bauhaus, This Mortal Coil, and the Cocteau Twins-- 1980s art goth of a particular kind. But neither label nor their bands sought that tag. And since Dead Can Dance's music incorporated sounds from around the globe and across the centuries, the description seems particularly limiting. Anastasis, the duo's first new album together in 16 years (following a variety of solo works and collaborations as well as a retrospective 2005 tour), finds Dead Can Dance firmly in their comfort zone, at a time when neither Gerrard nor Perry should feel they have anything left to prove.
Dead Can Dance always avoided a curatorial or purist approach to global music, and that trend continues here. They're as open to new technologies and recording possibilities as they are to ancient instruments like the yangqin and the bodhrán, but they also eschew the collision of samples and beats that often defines other experimenters in the field. But over time, the influence of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard has reached far and wide. From Future Sound of London's early techno landmark "Papua New Guinea", which samples Gerrard's voice, to cover versions by bands such as arty metal types the Gathering and the more experimentalist impulses of recent bands like Prince Rama-- not to mention Gerrard's own now extensive work on a wide variety of film soundtracks -- Dead Can Dance's approach to sound has resonated widely....full text
GuardianAnastasis: the Greek word for resurrection. Before you even press play, you've understood three things about Dead Can Dance's first album in 16 years: it's erudite, portentous in its introspection, and finds a band whose back catalogue is a kind of musical world tour swimming around in the Aegean sea. Actually, the most exquisite music here could be Anatolian: it feels more ancient than modern, equally Turkish and Greek. On Anabasis (a word denoting journeys), Lisa Gerrard's voice wisps and curls like smoke from a hookah; on Kiko she wails like a high priestess over drums that suggest a march to a sacrifice and a rembetika riff. Best of all is Agape (love), whose melodramatically keening violin line reeks of the port of old Smyrna. Add Brendan Perry singing of memory and restless spirits in a voice so deep it seems to come from the foundations of buried temples, and this album could be hypnotic – if only it plodded less and soared more....full text
ConsequenceofsoundIn our globalized 21st-century world, non-Western culture floods our musical radar, to the point where artists like tUnE-yArDs and Vampire Weekend seamlessly incorporate African influences into their sound without crossing genre boundaries. 16 years since the release of their 1996 album Spiritchaser, Dead Can Dance–the Aussie duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard–has reacted to the changing landscape of its genre by not changing that much at all. Their music, frequently noted for its mystical grandeur and enchanting quality, continues to touch a spiritual nerve in the listener.
The core sound of the group, namely big, booming percussion and Gerrard’s tinny yangqin (a Chinese variant of the dulcimer), remains at the forefront of Anastasis, the band’s eighth studio album, and the first since they reunited for a world tour in 2005. The album’s strong ties to the musics of the Near East and North Africa shine in the waves of modal dulcimer melodies that form the backdrop of “Anabasis”, on top of which Gerrard sings meaningless syllables with quasi-Arabic ornaments.
At times, it feels like two different groups at work. Tracks with Gerrard on vocals are more ethereal and betray a strong near-Eastern influence, while Perry-led tracks like the heavy “Amnesia” evoke a general place-lessness. It doesn’t sound Turkish or Arabic, but rather simply like Dead Can Dance: a melange of dub, bass and drums, an indie rock guitar, a piano riff, and Gerrard’s dulcimer punctuating the upbeats. Lush strings suggest majestic art-rock, and Perry’s deep, reverb-laden vocals recall British shoegaze bands with a touch of Morrissey. The song’s peak, with blaring French horns and high-pitched strings providing the cathartic release of a post-rock composition....full text
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