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Dead Can Dance - Dead Can Dance CD (album) cover

DEAD CAN DANCE

Dead Can Dance

 

Prog Folk

3.32 | 92 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bonnek
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Before they entered the world of ethereal beauty, mysticism and ethnic music, Dead Can Dance debuted with a new wave album that was more similar to early Cocteau Twins then to any of their future albums. It is often discarded and pigeonholed as a less deserving work, but, while it didn't reach their unique vision yet, it is an entirely deserving album on its own and easily as strong as concurrent post punk albums from Siouxsie, the Cure and Bauhaus.

The production is the typical muddy gothic sound of the early 80's, with reverberating drums, thumping bass guitar and heavily processed guitar effects. A sound grounded in the spirit of the times and not the ageless ambience that Dead Can Dance had envisioned. I never had issues with it though and the 2008 re-issue sounds just great to me.

That being said, the song writing is of high standards. The vocals are the most striking feature, signalling a more relaxed and schooled approach to singing then the wild Brit-punk flavoured vocals of other new wave bands. It might make this album easier to stomach for progheads. Of course, if you're not receptive to the evolution music took in the 80's, you'll never like this. The tracks sung by Lisa Gerrard come closest to Dead Can Dance's later sound, Frontier, Ocean and Musica Eternal are striking examples of her mesmerizing vocals. Brendan Perry's soothing baritone offers a more worldly balance on songs like The Trial, Passage in Time and Wild In The Woods. On this album, his voice is generally more suited for the song material then Lisa's; on the more ethnic direction of later albums her voice would come to full blossom.

While this album has nothing to do with Prog Rock as such, it is equally innovating as the progressive music from the early 70's. In fact, I don't see new wave and prog as opposite entities but rather as different outcomes of the same principle: to expand and develop rock into new, exciting, non-conformist and original directions.

Just like prog, new wave became gradually more uninteresting as it became more successful and when bands stopped experimenting and referred to formulaic songwriting in order to obtain the 'correct' sound. That is not what would happen to Dead Can Dance though. Their history was one of continuing development, growth and unwavering work ethics. Not an album for people with 80's phobia. 4.5 stars, impressive debut.

Bonnek | 4/5 |

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