Genre: Initially Post-Punk/Goth then Neo-Folk and World Fusion
Active: 1980-1996, 2005-Present
Page: ::Dead Can Dance::
Wiki: ::Dead Can Dance Wikipedia Article::
|Severance: The Winds of Change|
Dead Can Dance's first album (self-titled) was released in 1984, with 4AD records, followed by 'Garden of the Arcane Delights'. Some of their early work was more in a more 'Goth' style with tracks like 'The Trial' and 'The Arcane' but also included tracks in a very different style such as 'Frontier' that were early indications of where the band was to go musically. They still ended up playing support to the likes of Xmal Deutschland (1883, Brixton Ace, London), The March Violets (March 1984, London) and The Cocteau Twins (February 1984, Victoria Palace Theatre, London) in concert.
Allmusic's reviewer, Ned Raggett felt their early work had been "as goth as it gets", and while I would definitely say that they started off a Goth band, I think they rapidly became a Gothic band instead; their music conjures up images of ancient ruins, vast cathedrals, eerie landscapes and strange rituals. Their music is constructed of vast soundscapes, statuesque and mesmerising in their grandeur and global scope. They are so eclectic and unique that they are genuinely hard to classify into any genre; I have gone with 'world fusion' simply because I feel I need to write something, but even that does not seem truly accurate. You can find references to a wide variety of cultures, mythologies and time periods, and yet it is all brought together so harmoniously. Despite, or maybe because of, the broad scope, their music is more Gothic than even the lyrical content and imagery of And Also The Trees, and their world fusion stylings with a distinct choral element certainly seem many miles from the sounds of Bauhaus or Siouxsie and The Banshees. There are a couple of Joy Division quotes in their lyrics - in 'The Carnival Is Over', the line "Procession moves on, the shouting is over" is a quote from Joy Division song 'The Eternal' and in 'Tell Me About The Forest You Once Called Home' there is an adaptation of part of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'.
Dawn of the Iconoclasts
Back when I was at college, I did an art project on the band, cause it meant I could spend a whole term illustrating Dead Can Dance songs. It's from this project that the art I have used to illustrate this post has come.
In my opinion they are an amazing and unique musical force, well worth listening to, even if they are somewhat away from the 'Goth' niche. Even my Dad, who is rarely in accordance with any of my musical tastes, liked what he heard when I put 'Host of the Seraphim' on the CD player, and Raven, a definite Rivethead and Metalhead, lets me put Dead Can Dance in the in-car CD thingy-whatsit. They are really, really good, with solid compositions, an amazing synthesis of widely varying styles and techniques, and with lyrics that are beautiful poetry, and albums that are one amazing song followed by the next. I can't think of any Dead Can Dance song that I don't actually like (but that might be because I'm a very biased fan!).