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Dead Can Dance - Into The Labyrinth   CD (album) cover

INTO THE LABYRINTH

Dead Can Dance

 

Prog Folk

3.91 | 92 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars The great Canadian pan celtic troubadour LOREENA MCKENNITT issued her first major Canadian release "Parallel Dreams" as the 1980s came to a close. Based on the subsequent musical trajectory of both herself and "Dead Can Dance", one might well ask if the two acts shared a common fixation, at least in dream space. By the time of "Into the Labyrinth", both had made clear their interest in world rhythms eclipsed any relation to the celtic diaspora, medieval or otherwise. They both would draw frequently on these roots, but not without propelling themselves dart-like to such far flung venues as Mongolia and sub and super Saharan Africa. The first DCD disk to reenforce the band's commitment to rotating the four corners of this globe on their unique angle of declination was "Into the Labyrinth", and it bears a few remarkable resemblances to McKennitt's "Mask and Mirror". If you like one, you will at least entertain if not adore the other.

The opener "Yulunga", for instance, has Gerrard chanting in a middle Eastern pattern for a fleeting 7 minutes, so spot on is her diction. "The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove" plies a similar furrow even if Perry is responsible this time. The progressive quotient isn't anywhere near the middle of the scale, even if it nonetheless surpasses that of Loreena's work. The wind instruments are arresting in their clarity. Back to Gerrard for the haunting celtic traditional piece "The Wind that Shakes the Barley". This is followed by one of the strongest DCD pieces, "The Carnival is Over", with its nostalgic style reminiscent of a long gone era, and I don't mean the 1960s or 1970s, yet with a scintillating production that betrays its relatively recent vintage. The synthesizers recall the work of COLLAGE from that time period, while Perry sounds not unlike the vocalist for 1980s mellow German prog group ROUSSEAU.

Even when the tracks get shorter and less developed, we still reach auspicious heights with "Ariadne" in which Gerrard virtually invents a devotional language for the folk prog masses. While the near perfecton of the disk is brought down a solid notch by "Towards the Within" and "The Spider's Stratagem", both of which smack of a group trying to figure out how to get from their usual 36 minutes up to 55, and not quite succeeding, the album closer is another top rung keeper, "How Fortunate the Man with None". The longer it persists and repeats, the more it convinces and converts. Truly a masterful ballad that one can drift in and out to, and discover a new message each time out.

Another huge and grown up leap for DCD, "Into the Labyrinth" incorporates the achievements of Aion but modernizes and universalizes them. A delightful disk with the power to a maze.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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