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Dead Can Dance - Garden of the Arcane Delights CD (album) cover


Dead Can Dance


Prog Folk

3.68 | 31 ratings

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4 stars Dead Can Dance were one of those eighties post-punk/goth era bands like Bauhaus and Siouxsie & the Banshees and the Cure and Joy Division that seemed to owe a lot of debts to the punk movement but whose music didn’t echo that genre’s cultural or political sensibilities. It’s really only a product of time (a quarter-century actually) that has recast Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard as anything resembling ‘progressive folk’. In their day about the only place you’d hear this music besides on your own turntable was in a goth club or late at night on open-minded college radio stations.

All that said, it is great music and Gerrard’s voice is always a treat to hear. She’s an alto I guess – a deeper voice than most women is all I know, and her Irish lilt has a tendency to make her sound even younger than she was at the time (early twenties). Brendan Perry was a former punker, but with Dead Can Dance the musical arrangements are very well thought-out and carefully executed to maximum emotional effect; Perry clearly is working very hard to control one’s experience when listening to his music.

This little EP came out shortly after the debut album, which I actually don’t remember. I do remember ‘Spleen & Ideal’ which followed this one. If I’m not mistaken the debut did fairly well but not great on release, and EPs were a popular way at the time to put something inexpensive on the shelves as a teaser. That’s what this 12” was I suspect, as you could have picked it up for about $6 USD or so when it first came out.

There are only four tracks here but each of them is solid. “In Power we Entrust the Love Advocated” reminds me just a bit of the Cure, mostly because it’s pretty gothic and Perry does all the vocals and sounds not unlike Robert Smith. “The Arcane” is the marquee track and features Perry’s Casper-the- friendly-ghost vocals again but softened and given some depth with Gerrard’s throaty accompaniment. Gerrard plays that Oriental hammered dulcimer on all the tracks, something she did throughout most of the life of the band. Not sure if that’s because she can’t play anything else or because they actually think this add to the music’s vibe, but really it’s the guitar and percussion that make the music on all these tracks.

“Flowers of the Sea” has a synthesized riff that persists throughout and sounds like a bagpipe to give this either a martial or a Celtic tone, depending on your perspective. Either way the track seems ever so slightly out-of-place although it is a decent Dead composition.

This isn’t a masterpiece for sure but it is definitely required listening for Dead Can Dance fans and would be a good and reasonably-priced inclusion to most prog folk fans’ collections. Four stars (which might be a tad on the high side but justified in my mind) and well recommended.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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