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Dead Can Dance - Spleen and Ideal CD (album) cover


Dead Can Dance


Prog Folk

3.66 | 124 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars Dead Can Dance were starting to figure themselves out by this point, branching out from their gothic pop/rock roots to explore classical approaches to compositions and utilize more instrumentation not usually associated with the "Goth" genre. The arrangement of the songs is a bit odd, considering that this album opens with three Lisa Gerrard tunes in a row that carry a similar vibe. They are quite nice and atmospheric, but to be honest, Lisa hadn't quite hit her true range and seemed to be in the development stages of her vocal skills. Yes, compared to most other vocalists in the Goth and art-rock world at the time, she crushes them talent-wise, but hearing the Dead Can Dance albums released after this one proves that she would soon be getting much better; in fact she would eventually become a major global force and the eventual go-to voice for haunting major film scores.

Brendan Perry arrives to sing lead in Cardinal Sin, which has a pretty nice melody, but doesn't really stick in the head too long. The electronic drum beats sound rather cute in a dated sort of way. Other notable tracks include Mesmerism, which is a very Eastern-tinged gothic track sung by Lisa in which she actually sings some English lines (would wouldn't happen again for a few albums), and Indoctrination (A Design for Living), which at one point morphs into this jazzy swing track but with the heavy reverb and atmosphere consuming the rest of the album. The production of this effort is ok but still a bit unpolished and slightly murky. This issue would be removed for their next album.

One other track that needs to be noted is Enigma of the Absolute, which I consider the best song within this album. Monstrous tympanis carry the beat like a stomping monstrosity approaching a sleeping village. The chiming melodies and use of occasional cellos add to the avant garde qualities of this piece, while Brendan delivers strong and haunting vocals. It's a hell of a good song, and would not have been out of place on either of Dead Can Dance's next two albums.

This album is interesting for being an obvious bridge between their pure gothic rock material and more classically infused dark and dreamy late 80s era, so for fans of the Goth scene and avant garde 80s music, this is pretty much an important document and worth a purchase, but for those interested in discovering the pre-world beat styles concerning this group, I would steer them to a couple of their later albums first, most notably Within The Realms... or Serpent's Egg.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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