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

GARDEN OF THE ARCANE DELIGHTS

Dead Can Dance

 

Prog Folk

3.69 | 28 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars DEAD CAN DANCE found their break in London in early 1984 when they were signed to 4AD Records which released their eponymously titled debut in February. The band started out completely differently than what they would become known for. On the first album, the band was more in sync with bands like The Cure and The Cocteau Twins as they delivered a unique blend of gothic rock mixed with dream pop and 80s underground alt rock techniques, however hiding in the nooks and crannies were plenty of the ethnic influences that would dominate their later albums and help define them as one of the most original bands of all the 80s.

As if they were chomping on the bit to head in that direction, the band which was now dominated by the prevailing creative forces of the duo Gerrard and Perry, released an EP in August of the same year. This one took its name from the last track of the debut album and thus GARDEN OF THE ARCANE DELIGHTS was born. While the debut album debuted some of the band's signature traits, this one debuted another: highly symbolic features that take their meaning from mythology, history and natural law. The cover art was created by Perry represents a deep nebulous concept of primal man grasping for knowledge in the garden only to be set off course by a serpentine adversary.

Stylistically, GARDEN OF THE ARCANE DELIGHTS follows the debut in every way. Gerrard and Perry trading off vocals on different tracks with Gerrard's sounding like The Cocteau Twin's ethereal dream pop and Perry's sounding like an alt rock version of Frank Sinatra. This EP only contains four tracks and were probably intended to be tacked onto the debut album if technology of the day would have permitted, however with the advent of the compact disc, this one has indeed appeared as the ending of the debut full- length. This one follows suit also with the ethnic touches inserted with the most prominent coming from the finale "Flowers Of The Sea" with a thundering procession of congas and the Chinese yangqin, which is a trapezoidal hammered dulcimer derived from the Iranian santur.

The EP is a bridge of sort as it deemphasizes the Gothic rock dominance of the debut and puts more focus on the dreamier etheric touches of Gerrard's diva gymnastics and the thick otherworldly atmospheric touches. This is another one that i find underappeciated as it clearly finds an interesting timeline between two distinct phases of the band's career but despite being an in-between sort of thing, is still extremely beautiful to listen to. Luckily this was simply attached to the end of my debut album on a beautifully remastered CD but even if it wasn't i would spend the time and effort to hunt this down because it is a beautiful listening experience that i never tire of. Every bit as good as anything else DEAD CAN DANCE have released. Just different.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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