Album Review



by Dead Can Dance

8.5 / 10
17th September 2012

Reviewed by Martyn Pepperell

Anastasis is the Greek word for resurrection. Fittingly, it is also the title of the first Dead Can Dance album since 1996, an event anticipated by fans of this iconic duo since core members Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry reunited in 2011 for a short world tour.

Eight songs long, and also their eighth album Anastasis sees Lisa and Brendan artfully elaborating the ethno medieval soundworld they became globally lauded for between 1984 and 1996. Richly evocative, as with their earlier releases Anastasis lets these two unique singers and multi-instrumentalists matching their epic voices and mythological lyricism against a haunted series of soundscapes. Soundscapes which recall the exoticism of South Asian, North African and Middle Eastern world music and medieval musical traditions drawn from the Dark Ages era in Europe and the United Kingdom.

Favouring the longer song (six to eight minutes), the two set up massive sagas of texture and tone, embellishing them with incidental nature field recordings, diverse rhythmic patterns (executed with a huge tribal feel) and a plethora of ancient instruments drawn from across the continents. Over the top of these tapestries, Lisa and Brendan sing long form stories of memory (and memory loss), evolution, signs from above (or beyond) and entering the metaphorical void. One of the more remarkable qualities about the songs on Anastasis(which is shared with many of their past works), is the manner in which Dead Can Dance's songs seem to distort the flow of time. Six minute songs can seem to pass in three, and on the other side of the coin, eight minute longs flow for an eternity without ever wearing out their welcome.

Hearing Brendan's thick, syrupy voice on songs like 'Children of The Son' and 'Amnesia', one is instantly transported to windswept fields, plains and rolling mountainsides. Viewed under this light, I imagine we will probably hear a few of these songs in future seasons from TV shows like Game of Thrones. Similarly, hearing Lisa's spectral contralto tones and obfuscated idioglossian lyricism, it's hard to not disappear into a world of foggy full moon nights lived within mystical valleys and forests.

In earlier times, Dead Can Dance made music which really made you feel something. Music which through obscure vocal techniques and strange foreign instrumentation, truly took you somewhere else, in the process giving you a true experience of the other. Sixteen years later, hearing these iconoclastic talents continue to evoke a similar depth of experience through song and sonic arts is touching to say the least.

While definitely not for everyone, for the intrigued listener who connects with the sense of magical difference and sonic spirituality completely embedded within Anastasis' hour running time, you could do a lot worse than letting yourself sink into the Dead Can Dance state of mind. Falling in line with this, the best thing about Anastasis is how divorced it feels from modern times. There is no smartphones, facebook or twitter in Dead Can Dance's world, just you, them and the music.

'Children of the Sun' (track only)

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