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WITHIN THE REALM OF A DYING SUN

Dead Can Dance

Prog Folk


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Dead Can Dance Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun album cover
4.02 | 130 ratings | 11 reviews | 49% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Anywhere Out of the World (5:08)
2. Windfall (3:30)
3. In the Wake of Adversity (4:14)
4. Xavier (6:16)
5. Dawn of the Iconoclast (2:06)
6. Cantara (5:58)
7. Summoning of the Muse (4:55)
8. Persephone (the Gathering of Flowers) (6:36)

Total Time: 38:43

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Lisa Gerrard / vocals, multi-instruments
- Brendan Perry / vocals, multi-instruments

Guest musicians:
- Richard Avison / trombone
- Andrew Claxton / tuba, trombone
- Tony Gamage / cello
- Alison Harling / violin
- Peter Ulrich / tympani, drums
- Ruth Watson / oboe

Releases information

LP 4AD Records (1987 UK)

Thanks to Seyo for the addition
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DEAD CAN DANCE Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun ratings distribution


4.02
(130 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(49%)
49%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
32%
Good, but non-essential (16%)
16%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

DEAD CAN DANCE Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars By 87's Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun, DCD didn't sound anything alike the gothic post punk band they were. Of course DCD was to remain in the gothic spectrum, as this album is probably still considered a founding monument for many specialists. Of course the change didn't come abruptly and overnight, the previous year's Spleen & Ideals had already started hinting at the present changes, but it is with their third "opus" that the changes become plainly evident to all but this proghead, too busy elsewhere to notice. I must that the super-Gothic graveyard artwork did not help me to actually give it a chance.

Right from the descending synth bell chimes of the opening Anywhere Out Of This World, you know that the music has veered completely around, adopting most often a classical stance often aided by the use of many acoustic instruments. Indeed DCD is now more of an ambient gothic group. Both Windfall and Wake Of Adversity should sound a bit familiar to you (as it did to me, but had no idea who it was) and Dawn Of The Iconoclast has probably been heard all over the planet at the time on the airwaves.

Although a vast improvement on their early releases, WTROADS is also a fairly vacuous album. Indeed there are few hints of medieval and classical influences, but the album is by large a very ambient one, never raising the tempo or getting down to serious business. It has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that lacks. Bravado, intensity (or more like the lack of them) and virtuosity, are simply not key words in this release. Subtlety, finesse and reflectiveless, however are much more

While demanding progheads, looking for complex rhythm patterns of virtuoso solos, will probably not get satisfaction from such an ambient album, Dying Sun is still an album much worthy of a good listen, because it might surprise a few set-minded music fans. But hardly is it an essential album, in regards with this site's scope of interest.

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Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Dead Can Dance’s third album found them moving even further into a more ethereal and classical- leaning sound and, except for Brendan Perry’s vocals, away from the gothic label they had acquired early in their career. The accompanying guest musicians are mostly new, but there is still a wide array of instruments including violin, cello, oboe, trumpet, trombone and timpani. The cello plays a key role and for the most part replaces a tradition bass rhythm, which is one of the things that made the band different from many of their contemporaries in the mid-eighties. Today many post-rock, symphonic and neo-prog as well as conventional bands employ cellos, but twenty years ago this was an instrument largely reserved for faux-classical bands like ELO and Alan Parsons.

The tempo of most of these tracks is a bit slower and less distinctive than the early work of the band, and in my opinion Perry downplays one of the band’s strengths (Lisa Gerrard’s vocals) on too many of these compositions. On some tracks like “In the Wake of Adversity” and “Xavier” she isn’t heard at all, and on others such as “Anywhere out of the World” and “Persephone (The Gathering of Flowers)” her role is diminished. The duo makes up for this somewhat with the trio of tunes “Dawn of the Iconoclast”, “Cantara” and “Summoning of the Muse” where Gerrard is the central vocal character, but this isn’t enough to raise the album into new territory as far as I’m concerned.

And speaking of “Dawn of the Iconoclast”, this was one of the band’s few opportunities to really establish themselves as a musical force, but unfortunately the brief couple of minutes of run-time don’t do justice to the quietly intense mood that starts to build but dies out all too soon.

“Persephone” is another track that doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Even though this is the longest track on the album it suffers a bit from a lengthy ambient passage that does little to embellish the album and makes for an anti-climactic closing to a record that never quite gets its feet under it.

This is probably one of the better known Dead albums, but certainly not their finest work. It does have the distinction of having what it probably their best album cover though, so points for that I suppose.

If you don’t know this band I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point, but it is unquestionably essential for fans. For everyone else I’d give this only a mild recommendation, and three stars are as high as it should be rated. Check out ‘Spleen & Ideal’ for a solid sense of what these two musicians were capable of, and reserve this one for later in your exploration of their music if you ever get to that point.

peace

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Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
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.

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Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Australian/UK act Dead Can Dance. The album was released through 4AD Records in July 1987. After the goth rock influenced debut album "Dean Can Dance (1984)" and the EP "Garden Of The Arcane Delights (1984)" which came later that same year, the band released a very different sounding second album in "Spleen And Ideal (1985)". The goth rock influences were much more subdued and in came world music/folk/Medieval/ambient music influences. The vocals by the now only remaining members of the band Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry have since that album been defining for the sound of Dead Can Dance. Lisa Gerrardīs trained operatic style (contralto)/ethnic Arabian style and Brendan Perryīs distinct deep and warm baritone. Dead Can Dance didnīt really find their trademark sound until later in their career but "Spleen And Ideal (1985)" was the first step to finding that sound. "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun" generally shows great progression from "Spleen And Ideal (1985)" and is ultimately a very different sounding album. It still doesnīt represent what I would characterize as the bandīs signature sound, but itīs a further step in that direction.

The 38:43 minutes long album features 8 tracks. All tracks are dark and melancholic featuring epic sounding synths and chimes but also more organic instrumentation like trombone, tuba, cello, violin, tympani and oboe. The first four tracks which made out Side 1 of the original LP release all feature male vocals by Brendan Perry (except the instrumental "Windfall") while the last four tracks which made out Side 2 of the original LP release all feature female vocals by Lisa Gerrard. On all succeeding releases by Dead Can Dance the female and male lead vocal tracks are more spread out on the tracklists, which is a thing that makes "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun" quite unique in the bandīs discography and also provide the album with a distinct flow. The way the tracks are arranged here it seems like the tracks on Side 1 is Brendan Perryīs children while the tracks on Side 2 appear to be Lisa Gerrardīs children. After listening to the deep, melancholic and elegant baritone vocals by Brendan Perry on the first tracks on the album itīs an effectful change in style listening to Lisa Gerrardīs ethnic flavoured vocal approach on the remaining tracks. The music is generally very ambient and rather slow paced. Many tracks open in minimalistic style and build to grand climaxes with multible layers of instruments and themes.

The sound production is professional, clear and organic. The organic instruments and the synths work well together and create an ominous and dark dreamlike soundscape. "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun" is overall an excellent studio album by Dead Can Dance and their darkest album to date. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.

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Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars Dead Can Dance is one of those bands of which it completely eludes me why they have been added to this site. They were icons of the post-punk / new wave movement in the 80's and if I'm not mistaken, that generation was all about being as anti-prog as possible. Of course the principle of innovating and experimenting ran equally high through both kinds of music.

Few will argue that Dead Can Dance has anything to do with progressive masterpieces or with excellent additions to your prog collection. So when following the rating logic strictly, one can never rate them above 3 stars. I find this to be of the cruelest possible irony: add a band to a prog site where they don't belong and then penalize them with low ratings because they are not prog...

No, I will not go along with that logic. DCD has been added to this site so I will assume they must be prog in one way or another. Hence, my ratings will be in accordance with the quality of their albums and nothing else.

Right, with these trivial matters out of the way let's simply plunge into the wonderful soundscape that this album is and relish every minute of it. As others have pointed out already, Dead Can Dance has been evolving with every release. While always retaining a big dramatic impact, the way it is achieved has been different on each album.

On Within the Realm of the Dying Sun the approach is the gloomiest and most gothic they ever did. While it has nothing to do with gothic rock as such, the album has everything it takes to get every goth lover dusting off his long leather cape and leaving his dark cave as soon as the last rays of the dying sun have left the insufferable sun-bathed time of day. (Damn, it's happening again, once more my writing has adapted to the kind of music). It is goth yes, but gothic in the way medieval church music is gothic: that chilling mix of dark, grotesque, desolate, mysterious and teutonic.

With the wide array of styles that DCD has evolved through, your personal DCD preference will largely depend on your receptiveness towards either Gothic music, renaissance, Arabic influences or Indian world music. Sometimes it's hard to choose, but given the dark forces that wield within me, Within the Realm of the Dying Sun (the title alone!), would be the most fitting DCD experience for me.

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Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. This album continues down the same path as their last one "Spleen & Ideal", but it is different.They've added a lot more strings and brass to their sound, and medieval is definitely a word that comes to mind. Other words that come to mind when I listen to this include dark, melancholic, otherworldly, mysterious, haunting, ethereal and of course atmospheric. I can't honestly say I enjoy it more than "Spleen & Ideal" or "The Serpents Egg" though.

"Anywhere Out Of The World" sounds so amazing 30 seconds in when the sound gets fuller. So full. Thick atmosphere before this bass line comes in followed by Brenden's vocals. Strings and brass aren't in your face but they make the sound so heavy that it rains emotion. "Windfall" is classical sounding instrumental with sounds that slowly come and go.It gets better as it plays out. "In The Wake Of Adversity" opens with strings and brass as male vocals join in around a minute. Almost sounds like Frank Sinatra if he had turned goth. "Xavier" features Lisa's vocal melodies along with horns before Brenden comes in vocally the rest of the way and i'm not liking this. This is dark with lots of atmosphere as distant trumpet blasts can be heard.

"Dawn Of The Innocent" opens with blasting horns and drums before Lisa comes in and takes over vocally. This is powerful stuff. So much atmosphere and it's quite intense. Eerie late. Great track. "Cantara" features some hurdy gurdy with atmosphere. A heavy beat arrives 2 minutes in as the tempo picks up. Nice. Lisa joins in vocally. Nicer. Amazing tune. "Summoning Of The Muse" is so heavy with sounds as Lisa comes in singing. Powerful. "Persephone (The Gathering Of Flowers)" features an incredible vocal performance from Lisa to open. When she stop these strings come in and they bring so much emotion around 1 1/2 minutes. Brass helps out too. Female vocals 2 1/2 minutes in as the sounds in the background hum. More strings around 4 minutes as Lisa joins them. Gulp. Aboe after 5 1/2 minutes.

Atmosphere galore. Funny but I felt the better tracks had Lisa singing on them which is the opposite way I felt with "Spleen & Ideal".

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Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The 3rd album by DCD is simply amazing and presents a mature and self-confident artists who found a right balance between their earlier "darkwave", "post-gothic rock" sound and folk/world fusion ambience of the works to come.

Just listen to the mesmerising "Anywhere Out of the World", eerie instrumental "Windfall", tribal chant of "Dawn of the Iconoclast" or a stunning crescento of "Cantara" and you'll hear beautiful melodies, melancholic musings, dark themes of lost love and innocence and mediaeval- sounding cries and echoes.

It is hard to tell whose voice is stronger and more awsome: Perry's cold baritone or Gerard's nasal acrobatics; both are wonderful. If you still have doubts about inclusion of DCD into PA site, I would strongly advise you to start with this brilliant album. Even a mere look at the cover image gives me goosebumps...

PERSONAL RATING: 5/5

P.A. RATING: 5/5

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Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Significant alterations notwithstanding, DCD remained tailored for a certain cold wave goth audience even on their 3rd album. Luckily they here offer much more eclectic and multidimensional pieces that allow strands of light to penetrate to a widening fan base, probably counting disgruntled late 80s prog fans among them.

Things start off on the right foot right away, with "Anywhere Out of the World" accumulating ambient lush keyboard sounds for the first couple of minutes before Perry's voice tackles a strong melody straddling the line between 80s new wave and 70s progressive masters. Occasionally one wonders if the group had not listened to ENYA's "The Celts", her brilliant debut prior to laying down these tracks. "Windfall" does give this impression with its lovely flute sounds, and especially the somewhat less effective "In the Wake of Diversity".

The real highlights are the wondrously layered "Xavier" and the transfixing "Summoning of the Muse" the latter allowing Gerard to shines. Both of these could keep old fans happy and also satisfy those who want greater emotional commitment. They easily make up for the some of the excesses of "Cantara" which, in spite of its flaws, confirms a new attitude and direction for the group, and Gerard 's singing here might have helped shape the style of Dolores O'Riorden of the CRANBERRIES who came along a bit later.

It turns out that even a ray of light from a dying sun makes a world of difference to the DCD sound, a mere tweak to the stifling perpetual post-dusk of earlier albums.

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Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars On Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry steer Dead Can Dance more or less completely outside of the goth rock context the band originally formed in to explore esoteric blends of progressive folk, Gregorian chant, medieval compositions and world music. Lisa Gerrard's ethereal vocals are given plenty of chance to take the spotlight, particularly in the second half of the album, but Brendan Perry's vocals also show distinct signs of improvement; it sounds to me as though he is no longer trying to compete with the likes of Peter Murphy, Andrew Eldritch and other goth frontmen and is singing in a style more natural to him, allowing a bit more warmth to creep into his distinctive baritone. On the whole, this is the first true masterpiece by the band.

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Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is the fourth release (which includes 1 EP) from this very distinctive sounding band. On the previous albums, they explored goth rock moving closer to their signature old world sound with each album. This release even refines their sound even more than the previous one. The songs include more orchestral arrangements along with the mix of electronics and old world instruments that were prevalent in the previous album. This one is dark and brooding, which still shouts out goth rock, but the imposing, thick sound from the debut album and the EP is gone. All the sounds are distinct and beautiful. This starts off with a atmospheric instrumental lead in on the first track that gives way to Perry's pensive vocals. An instrumental follows, a beautiful introspective piece with quite a variety of instruments. You can start to hear the importance of the instrumentation in this album which in the past releases was mostly used as backdrops for the tracks. The third selection is another vocal by Perry with a nice shimmering background bringing to mind sitting next to a dark water lake and watching the sunlight sparkle off the ripples. Unfortunately, this track ends too abruptly. "Xavier", the fourth track, starts out with a repeating chord progression in a stop/start fashion with nice wordless vocals overlying the progression. The progression stops and a new idea starts with vocals once again by Perry. This one has a lot more substance to the song and it as proven when the chord progression starts again which this time is followed by the melody in the vocals. Excellent development of the melody as the selection continues. This track is definitely a standout on the album even if it still follows the same ambience as the rest of the album up to this point, which is very little percussion with the rhythm being punctuated by chords from various instruments. The somberness of the album up until now is interrupted by a booming drum and brass in the next track which soon changes to a drone overlayed by Gerrard's amazing vocals. This is the first time we hear from Gerrard on this album and her voice up to this point has been sorely missed. Tension builds somewhat but the track ends right at the climax. The next track is one of my favorite DCD tracks. I love this one. I'm not going to describe it other than it has a long instrumental at the beginning and has a totally unexpected change halfway through and Gerrard's vocals start. This one showcases Gerrard when she does start singing. Finally, some percussion, which only heightens the track. Love this. There is even some harmonization here which up to this point on any DCD track has been a rare thing. Put on the headphones and listen to everything going on here! Every once in a while I run across a perfect track.....a six star track when rating on a 5 star scale. The next track holds another surprise as the vocals are arranged to sound like a small choir throughout. The harmony is sung in an almost "Round" type composition where underlying voices sing the melody behind the lead voices adding not just the melody but embellishments. The percussion is minimal here and that is okay, it's not needed. A very tense yet flowing track. Beautiful. The vocals are not showcased here because the focus on this track is on the music. The last track is once again Gerrard singing in a very dark manner beginning in a low register along with a plodding bass line. Her trademark warble is apparent here as the vocals build to an instrumental break consisting of strings. Simply lovely. Layered vocals follow giving this an almost chamber like feeling. So percussion is used sparingly on this album so that the center of attention is fixed on the instrumentation and vocals. This one is a lot more atmospheric than the previous albums. There is also a lot more ingenuity, a lot more texture. It demands to be listened to, not used as background music or driving music. The second half of the album is the most progressive and also has the best written music. The album suffers slightly because of the weaker first half, but this is still an excellent addition to any collection and should not be ignored.

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Latest members reviews

5 stars Possibly the most statuesque and beautiful album ever recorded. No... I'm not joking... these are serious words for once. Reduced to core members Brendan Perry, Lisa Gerrard and percussionist Peter Ulrich, Dead Can Dance produced the most perfect album I've ever heard. It's cold... and ... (read more)

Report this review (#414239) | Posted by Dobermensch | Thursday, March 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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