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Dead Can Dance - Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun CD (album) cover

WITHIN THE REALM OF A DYING SUN

Dead Can Dance

 

Prog Folk

4.02 | 114 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Raff
Prog Reviewer
3 stars By the time the third studio album by Dead Can Dance was released, the only link left with their past as a gothic rock band seemed to be the stunning cover, depicting the tomb of French politician Raspail in the famous Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris (where the likes of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are also buried). While this might turn off some listeners, for a person like me, with a lifelong interest in the art and literature of the last decades of the 19th century, it was definitely much more of an asset.

My first approach to the band had been through their Aion album, released four years later, and the fact that after listening to it I decided to acquire all their other albums should be proof enough of the appeal Dead Can Dance hold for me. Admittedly, their addition to the site was somewhat on the controversial side, since their music does not sound like what is conventionally seen as ''''prog'''', and their post-punk roots render them immediately suspicious in the eyes of the more traditional prog fans. On the other hand, the more open-minded listeners do not fail to realise that many elements in DCD''''s music are akin to some of the foundations of prog - the influences taken from medieval and world music, the use of ethnic and classical instruments, the presence of both a male and a female vocalist, the erudite, intriguing themes, the ethereal, ambient-like soundscapes. Progressive music comes under many guises, nor is it necessarily about 20-minute-long epics with head-spinning time signature changes.

One of the chief strengths of Dead Can Dance lies in the absolutely gorgeous voices of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. While Perry''''s velvety baritone sets him squarely in the gothic rock tradition (though with a flair and elegance that other vocalists can only dream of), Lisa Gerrard''''s vibrant contralto goes definitely against the grain of most prog subgenres, which seem to favour female singers with angelic, soaring soprano ranges. On Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, Gerrard is somewhat underused, coming into her own in the second half of the album, especially in the mesmerizing Cantara, influenced (among other things) by Australia''''s native musical traditions. Her singing style, characterised by the use of glossolalia (the vocalisation of speech-like syllables), sets her apart from the majority of female vocalists, who all too often go for either conventional beauty or all-out aggression. Perry''''s finest hour comes instead with the haunting, mystical Xavier, where he emotes over a somewhat minimalistic background of strings and solemn tuba and trombone.

As a whole, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun makes fascinating listening, though at times it can get a bit samey. Its rarefied atmosphere will definitely not be everyone''''s cup of tea, and, with the exception of the aforementioned Cantara, its pace is really slow, bordering on plodding. With its rich instrumentation and liberal use of the evocative sound of bells, it makes ideal listening material for a rainy autumn evening - it is mood music, a refreshing alternative to driving hard-rock, or overly complex, ''''authentic'''' prog compositions. Personally, I would rate this album a solid three stars - definitely not essential (with the possible exception of Xavier and Cantara, which number among my all-time favourite DCD tracks), but a rewarding listening experience nonetheless.

Raff | 3/5 |

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