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DEAD CAN DANCE

Prog Folk • Australia


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Dead Can Dance picture
Dead Can Dance biography
Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 1981 - Disbanded in 1998 - Reformed briefly in 2005 and again since 2011

In 1980 guitarist Brendan Perry left the Australian punk group THE MARCHING GIRLS and began experimenting with electronic music, particularly tape loops and rhythms. In 1981, Perry formed DEAD CAN DANCE with vocalist Lisa Gerrard, bassist Paul Erikson, and drummer Simon Monroe. By 1982, Perry and Gerrard decided to relocate to London; Erikson and Monroe decided to stay in Australia. Since then, DEAD CAN DANCE effectively worked as a duo with many session musicians and collaborators helping them record in studio and perform live.

In the spring of 1984, and with Erikson on bass they released their eponymous debut album on 4AD label, which showed the British Post-Punk and Gothic Rock influences. By the end of the year, the group had released an EP called "Garden of the Arcane Delights". In 1985, DEAD CAN DANCE released their second album, "Spleen and Ideal". The album presented a change of style, experimenting more with the elements of mediaeval, European folk and Worldbeat/Ambient music. It helped build their European cult following, peaking at number two on the U.K. indie charts.

"Within the Realm of a Dying Sun", the group's third album, appeared in 1986, while in 1988 the band released their fourth album, "The Serpent's Egg", which both rank among their best works. After their fifth album "Aion", in 1990 the group toured America for the first time, earning rave reviews. In 1991, the compilation "A Passage in Time" was released on Rykodisc, making it the first American release of DEAD CAN DANCE music. In the fall of 1993, the group released "Into the Labyrinth", which became their first proper studio album to receive an American release. It was followed by another American and European tour, which was documented on the 1994 album and film, "Toward the Within". In the summer of 1996, DEAD CAN DANCE released "Spiritchaser" and embarked on an international tour. The duo officially disbanded in 1999, with Gerrard and Perry continuing work as solo artists.

In 2001, Rhino released the band's first comprehensive box set, "Dead Can Dance 1981-1998". Gerrard and Perry reunited for a world tour 2005 while Rhino once more recognized the duo with a greatest hits collection. "Memento: The Very Best of Dead Can Dance" appeared in October 2005.

DEAD CAN DANCE combine elements of European folk music - particularly music from the...
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DEAD CAN DANCE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DEAD CAN DANCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 99 ratings
Dead Can Dance
1984
3.66 | 125 ratings
Spleen and Ideal
1985
4.10 | 193 ratings
Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun
1987
3.89 | 165 ratings
The Serpent's Egg
1988
3.41 | 143 ratings
Aion
1990
4.00 | 148 ratings
Into The Labyrinth
1993
3.24 | 91 ratings
Spiritchaser
1996
3.83 | 150 ratings
Anastasis
2012
3.88 | 89 ratings
Dionysus
2018

DEAD CAN DANCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.23 | 64 ratings
Toward The Within
1994
4.00 | 1 ratings
DCD 2005 12th March Holland: The Hague
2005
2.78 | 22 ratings
In Concert
2013

DEAD CAN DANCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.62 | 43 ratings
Toward The Within
1994

DEAD CAN DANCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 35 ratings
A Passage In Time
1991
4.00 | 1 ratings
Dead Can Dance
1994
4.62 | 17 ratings
Dead Can Dance (1981-1998)
2001
4.42 | 19 ratings
Wake
2003
3.50 | 10 ratings
Memento: The Very Best of Dead Can Dance
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Selections from North America 2005
2005
4.00 | 1 ratings
Selections from Europe 2005
2005
5.00 | 1 ratings
SACD Box Set
2008
4.50 | 2 ratings
Live Happenings I-V
2012

DEAD CAN DANCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 28 ratings
Garden of the Arcane Delights
1984
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Host of Seraphim
1993
4.00 | 1 ratings
American Dreaming
1994
4.00 | 1 ratings
Sambatiki
1996
4.00 | 1 ratings
Nierika
1996
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Snake and the Moon
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
John Peel Session 2.6.1984
2010
3.21 | 9 ratings
Live Happenings - Part 1
2011
3.26 | 8 ratings
Live Happenings - Part 2
2012
3.27 | 7 ratings
Live Happenings - Part 3
2012
3.27 | 7 ratings
Live Happenings IV
2012
3.25 | 5 ratings
Live Happenings - Part V
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Opium
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
John Peel Session 19.11.1983
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Amnesia
2012
3.50 | 2 ratings
Mosaic (Early demos)
2013
2.00 | 1 ratings
Moon Child Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
2019

DEAD CAN DANCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Toward The Within by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Live, 1994
4.23 | 64 ratings

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Toward The Within
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Dead Can Dance's only live album of their original incarnation was recorded hot on the heels of Into the Labyrinth, an album on which the duo had become intoxicated by world music but didn't seem to have much of a cohesive vision of how to bring it all together - or, for that matter, when it came to continuing to work together after the end of their romantic relationship. As a result whilst Into the Labyrinth had a number of great songs, it didn't quite seem to work as an album.

As with Into the Labyrinth (and the later Spiritchaser), I feel that Toward the Within is half a Lisa Gerrard solo release and half a Brendan Perry album mashed together uncomfortably. That said, the transition between Gerrard and Perry's sections seem to work somewhat more smoothly in a live context. Whilst it is still a shame that we don't have a solid live album from their true peak (say, around the time of Spleen and Ideal to Aion), Toward the Within to my ears offers a somewhat more cohesive vision than Into the Labyrinth at least.

 The Serpent's Egg by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.89 | 165 ratings

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The Serpent's Egg
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars Listening diary 23rd January 2021: Dead Can Dance - The Serpent's Egg (neoclassical darkwave, 1988)

This has become my favourite Dead Can Dance album, although that's probably only because it's the one I've spent the most time with. They're a band that create such outstanding moods but can be difficult to get into beyond a surface level background music kind of enjoyment. This one, probably aided by its utterly magnificent opener and the frequent allusions to Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares has grown on me from those initial impressions. It does fall off a bit after its introduction and its length means that the less remarkable second half goes by before you've even noticed it, but it has a great balance of mood and songwriting overall.

7.1 (6th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 Aion by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.41 | 143 ratings

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Aion
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars Listening diary 9th July, 2021: Dead Can Dance - Aion (neoclassical darkwave/medieval folk, 1990)

Probably their most blatantly medieval album, even to the point of covering The Song of the Sibyl, one of my favourite pieces of classical music, but as with many Dead Can Dance records, I'm not sure this has much staying power. There's an absolutely enchanting atmosphere to this, with strong folk threads running through it as well as the usual classical bent, but there aren't any standout tracks or truly memorable parts to songs. But if you're coming for the spiritual and ethereal atmosphere, it definitely delivers on that front.

6.6 (3rd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 Garden of the Arcane Delights by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.69 | 28 ratings

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Garden of the Arcane Delights
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Garden of the Arcane Delights EP - most easily available as a bonus on recent editions of Dead Can Dance's self- titled debut album - is a crucial piece in the group's discography, offering as it does a bridge between their debut, oriented as it more towards a more conventional gothic rock style, and their more ethereal darkwave sound that they would pioneer for the rest of their career.

For anyone wishing to puzzle out why Spleen and Ideal sounds so different from their debut, this is the missing link. Album opener, Carnival of Light, would not have sounded out of place on any of their subsequent 1980s albums, whilst In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated would almost be a more conventional gothic rock piece were it not for the unusual use of percussion. The rest of the EP waves in this borderland region between the group's past and its future.

 Spleen and Ideal by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.66 | 125 ratings

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Spleen and Ideal
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars Haunting and cinematic, 'Spleen And Ideal' is an album that never ceases to blow my mind every time I dabble into the Dead Can Dance universe. Carefully crafted, with immense attention to creating a sonic atmosphere that cannot be mistaken, this second album is still my favorite by the duo consisting of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard.

I have always found the magic of this album to be beyond what one can hear, it is in the very order of every note, the experience of listening to this with full attention, it is in the way every line is sang, should there be lyrical content; all this is elevated by the eclectic set of instrumentation that accompanies the musical ideas - cellos, timpanis, violins, trombones, guitars, and a pounding bass guitar on a few occasions.

Another strong moment for the album is the cathartic and unforgettable cover, a photograph depicting a building in the very moment of detonation, contemplated by a girl that is holding a plastic star - a contradictory and thought-provoking image that is as arcane as the music on the record.

The first side is surely the more solemn one, quite 'monumentally' performed with the big orchestral sounds, eerie vocal harmonies by Lisa Gerrard, and hypnotic drum beats. 'De Profundis' strongly resembles a liturgy, and the holy feels is really embracing you as you go through this album opener, and 'Circumradiant Dawn' has this prevailing medieval feel. The more gothic rock 'The Cardinal Sin' is for me a Dead Can Dance staple, just like 'Ascension' which is so heavily atmospheric and 'Mesmerism' - the elevating nature of these songs is definitely something that was a desired outcome, and a gracefully achieved one.

Side two should then be the more magical side, the darker and more aerial one - here the grandiosity is at the back, and fore comes the 'sacrament' of the duo, in a way. 'Advent' is seriously intense and even menacing, with sheltering vocals by Brendan Perry, 'Avatar' is an expansive track with a really vibrant energy, and 'Indoctrination' is very gloomy but slightly inferior to what comes before it.

This is a very unusual album, not an 'every day listen', one definitely needs to be in a spiritual need for something different musically because this record can truly satisfy such cravings. Highly recommended for people who want to hear an 80s album that has nothing to do with 80s popular music, something darker, more atmospheric and hypnotic.

 Dead Can Dance by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.31 | 99 ratings

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Dead Can Dance
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by progtime1234567

3 stars Dead can dance started out as a great Gothic rock or darkwave band that would sometimes foreshadow their future material in this album. The music itself is great although I am biased as Gothic rock and darkwave are some of my favorite genres of music, but we are on a progressive rock music website, so I will observe the other side to the band. A perfect example of the band foreshadowing their future albums is the song Ocean, which has no drums and Lisa Gerrard's vocals. Ocean sounds nothing like any other song on the album with maybe the exception of The Fatal Impact, which is the instrumental opening song, but even then the two songs sound almost nothing alike. The rest of the album is pretty straightforward with a few exceptions like the two songs I mentioned above, but don't let it fool you as this doesn't sound like The Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus. This debut album is sure to please Trad Goths, but a progressive rock fan should save this album for later, and listen to some of their later albums first, and then come to this. I enjoy this album a lot but since we are on a progressive rock music website, I will give this three stars. I would give it four stars if this was a Gothic music site, Ha.
 Spleen and Ideal by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.66 | 125 ratings

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Spleen and Ideal
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars First time hearing this album, I can't help but remark on the "youthfulness" of both Lisa and Brendan's voices. I'm also rather blown away at the way the music (if not the vocal tracks) has aged so well. Using instruments from the period, I would have expected more moments of cringing and embarrassment. But no: Nary a one! (Must be the 4 A.D. magic.)

1. "De Profundis (Out of the Depths of Sorrow)" (4:00) I can see this awesome song that conjures up so much of ancient times being the opener for many a Wiccan and pagan ceremony! (Now I know where/why ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF sounds so familiar to me!) (Lisa sounds so young!) must've been shockingly fresh for its time. (10/10)

2. "Ascension" (3:05) awesome instrumental that pretty much continues to lay down the theme of ancient and/or medieval (though majestic) from the opener. I'm in disbelief at how well they got these antiquated instruments to blend so well and how they were able to create a sound that doesn't sound so dated. (10/10)

3. "Circumradiant Dawn" (3:17) moving from the majestic and courtly to the chambers of the religious/wily women. (10/10)

4. "Cardinal Sin" (5:29) Brendan's voice is already strong and steady! Nice, thick music backing him, too. (8.75/10)

5. "Mesmerism" (3:53) She sounds so young! (8.5/10)

6. "Enigma of the Absolute" (4:13) a song that rather plods along is saved by the presence of the strings. (8.25/10)

7. "Advent" (5:19) with that BUGGLES-like bass line, this one moves the band a little more into the realm of New Wave. It is, in fact, a nice, pretty pop ballad. (9/10)

8. "Avatar" (4:35) finally, some Middle Eastern sounds and stylings (zither and vocal)! Shades of what is to come! (Again, I hear Anna von Hausswolff so clearly!) (9.5/10)

9. "Indoctrination (A Design for Living)" (4:16) piano, cheezy pseudo-jazz drum, and deep sustained synth bass over which Brendan sings somehow engages and mesmerizes. (9/10)

Total Time: 38:11

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive folk-rock music.

 The Serpent's Egg by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.89 | 165 ratings

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The Serpent's Egg
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Brendan and Lisa turn more to the East (especially the Middle East) for their inspiration and goals. Lisa's voice has certainly matured and strengthened.

1. "The Host of Seraphim" (6:18) there is no denying the vocal virtuosity on display in this song, but the instrumental bed on which it lays is equally mesmerizing. A true gut-wrenching masterpiece of music. One for the ages. (10/10)

2. "Orbis de Ignis" (1:35) a multi-voice medieval chant/weave with an Eastern European feel. (4.75/5)

3. "Severance" (3:22) organ giving Brendan a turn. A little too monotonous; nothing very exciting or innovative here. (7.75/10)

4. "The Writing on My Father's Hand" (3:50) (Anna Von Hausswolff: I've found your inspiration! Also, Katharine Blake/Mediæval Bæbes.) (8.75/10)

5. "In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings" (4:12) Brendan's turn over the first and only incidence of "dated"-sounding keyboards I've yet experienced by this band's output in the 1980s! Too bad. (8.5/10)

6. "Chant of the Paladin" (3:48) like a slave work song! Wow! Don't beat us to death! (8.5/10)

7. "Song of Sophia" (1:24) a cappella Lisa in some Middle Eastern language. (4.25/5)

8. "Echolalia" (1:17) male pagan chanters with tympanic drums are soon joined--alternating with call-and-response-like form--with female chorus. Interesting if not very engaging. (4.25/5)

9. "Mother Tongue" (5:16) instrumental African-like drum weave which is slowed down and joined by breathy synth flute and occasional female chants in the second half. I'm a sucker for African drum circles. (8.75/10)

10. "Ullyses" (5:09) employing a sound palette that Lisa and Brendan will return to (with great success) for the duration of their musical partnership. Brendan's turn in the lead. Unfortunately, his voice is mixed far too far in the back. (8.5/10)

Total Time: 36:15

Once again, I am astounded that these two could get the "authentic" and realistic sound blends with the electronic instruments they were using.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of world folk-eclectic progressive rock music.

 Aion by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.41 | 143 ratings

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Aion
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is my favorite Dead Can Dance album of all-time. I think this is due to the fact that it's instrumentation is more acoustic, more Euro-centric (not that I don't love other world musical traditions), and more "authentic" in terms of the instrumentation and song choices. As a matter of fact, since many of the songs here (all of Side One?) are "covers" or Brendan and Lisa's interpretations of classic mediæval and Renaissance songs (even chant!), I guess "authentic" is the appropriate, and operative, word here. As a representative of the Prog Folk sub-genre, I am much happier when a band is closer to folk than prog (electric) and rock (band formatted) and I am never happier than when ancient and old music forms and styles are attempted--especially when they are successfully rendered--as they are here.

Favorite songs: "The End of Words" (5/5); the brief hurdy-gurdy joy, "Mephisto" (5/5); "Wilderness" (5/5); the mesmerizing, "The Garden of Zephirus" (5/5); "The Arrival and The Reunion"(4.75/5); the gorgeous Celtic weave that is "As the Bell Rings The Maypole Spins" (9/10); "Saltarello" (9/10); the gorgeous multi-Lisa-voiced, "The Promised Womb" (8.75/10); "Fortune Present Gifts Not According to the Book" (8.75/10); "The Song of Sybli" (8.5/10), and; "Radharc" (8.5/10) and "Black Sun" (8/10).

It's funny how I often find the songs on which Brendan singing the lead vocal among my favorites but not so here. I guess his long-sustained, reverbed notes don't lend themselves so well to the ancient European traditions.

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and a near-masterpiece of Prog Folk as well.

 Into The Labyrinth by DEAD CAN DANCE album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.00 | 148 ratings

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Into The Labyrinth
Dead Can Dance Prog Folk

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars I LOVED Aion. This is going back to explore more of the Middle Eastern sounds as they began on Serpent's Egg.

1. "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)" (6:56) starts very powerfully with some extraordinary overtone vocals, but then comes down to Earth with the second half and the hand percussion. (13.25/15)

2. "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" (6:16) despite Brendan's attempt at passionate vocals, it's not believable and the song is nothing very exciting or dynamic. (8.25/10)

3. "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" (2:50) Lisa sings Celtic a cappella. (4.25/5)

4. "The Carnival Is Over" (5:28) Brendan's best song ever! So nostalgic and almost eerily sad! (10/10)

5. "Ariadne" (1:54) Silk Road campfire music. (4.75/5)

6. "Saldek" (1:07) music for Silk Road ablutions--or scarf dance. (4.75/5)

7. "Towards The Within" (7:06) one of the rare songs on which both Lisa and Brendan sing--together, bobbing and weaving with each other--on multiple tracks! When Lisa takes over solo voce in the middle it sounds a bit like OFRA HAZA. (13/15)

8. "Bird" (5:00) * (8.75/10)

9. "Tell Me About The Forest (You Once Called Home)" (5:42) interesting instrumental choices to weave with Brendan's vocal. Not sure they belong together (or if it works). For once the DCD computerized synth sounds sound old and dated. (8.5/10)

10. "The Spider's Stratagem" (6:42) definitely a song projected straight out of Asia Minor or the Arabian world. Lisa is so talented! (8.75/10)

11. "Spirit" (4:59) * musically very similar to Massive Attack's "Teardrop" as well as some fairly recent Cure and U2 work. (9.5/10)

12. "Emmeleia" (2:04) another duet--this one a cappella and sounding very Balkan monastic. Amazingly well executed and recorded! (4.75/5)

13. "How Fortunate The Man With None" (9:15) the only epic-length song on the album opens with very pleasant sound palette and a very strong Brendan Perry vocal. Very cool! The "strings" build out in the fourth minute is perfect. Through two verses and I'm LOVING this! I love how the music keeps shifting beneath the very steady storytelling of Brendan's vocal. Wow! I am shocked at how much I like this one! Really captures some kind of ancient milieu. (20/20)

* Absent from CD editions--they're both good songs that

Total time 65:19

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive World Folk music that has some extreme highs and some relative low points.

Thanks to seyo for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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