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Dead Can Dance

Prog Folk

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Dead Can Dance Dionysus album cover
3.90 | 98 ratings | 4 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Act I (16:39) :
- Sea Borne
- Liberator Of Minds
- Dance Of The Bacchantes
2. Act II (19:27):
- The Mountain
- The Invocation
- The Forest
- Psychopomp

Total Time 36:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Lisa Gerrard / performer, composer & producer
- Brendan Perry / performer, composer & producer

Releases information

Artwork: Brendan Perry

CD [PIAS] Recordings ‎- PIASR440CDX (2018, Europe)

LP [PIAS] Recordings ‎- PIASR440LP (2018, Europe)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DEAD CAN DANCE Dionysus ratings distribution

(98 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DEAD CAN DANCE Dionysus reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars DEAD CAN DANCE started out all the way back in 1981 and would eventually captivate the world with their unique blend of African rhythms, Celtic folk touches, ethereal otherworldly atmosphere and dualistic vocal approach of Lisa Gerrard's tender angelic siren effects alternating with Brenden Perry's suave crooning sensuality remnant of a mix of Frank Sinatra and Chris Isaak. While they may have had their heyday in the 80s and 90s, they have proved themselves not to be a relic of the past when they emerged from nowhere with 2012's "Anastasis" which found former full band turned duo revisiting their neoclassical darkwave past that slipped away on 1996's "Spiritchaser." While the band hadn't abandoned the richness of the world music smorgasbord effect that they had so deftly thrown in the salad bowl, it was great to hear the darkened 80s atmospheric touches that made them stand out from the alternative pack.

While "Anastasis" may have seemed like a one off and as time elapsed possibly the last artifact to emerge from this now classic musical act, lo and behold DEAD CAN DANCE rise from the grave for a night on the town with their newest ethnically fused neo- darkwave of the 21st century, DIONYSUS, which is a concept album that unfolds a two act set of mini-suites. With a decorated past that began in gothic rock and then experimental neoclassical darkwave which finally gave way to a complete emergence into ethnic worldbeat, it would've been impossible to predict where DEAD CAN DANCE would go next if anywhere. Well, after finally releasing a new unexpected album to an unsuspecting public so late in their game (Gerrard is married in Australia while Perry resides in Ireland), it is a thrill to find that they have taken a cue from much of their past minus the goth thing unfortunately.

Once the initial atmospheric touches lead the way, the groove immediately takes us on a polyrhythmic journey with African beats, Middle Eastern musical scales, wind instruments, Gaelic folk and finally Gerrard's vocal style reminiscent of the Bulgarian Women's Choir with the distinct Eastern Orthodox polyphonic chanting style. After the first act nears its completion and i cogitate upon the concept of a tribute to DIONYSUS who was the ancient Greek god of wine accompanied by one ethnically infused cadence after another, it finally occurs to me: DEAD CAN DANCE have become the acoustic equivalent of the psybient electro group Shpongle! While not as brash and far reaching as the electronic duo from the UK, DEAD CAN DANCE provides the same mesmerizing groove that seamlessly weaves myriad cultures as if they are the conductors on the world's playground and it's time for recess.

Rhythmically speaking, DIONYSUS has much more in common with the overall flow of the album "Spiritchaser" as it has a slow and steady groove that marches along nonchalantly as it's joined by the the rest of the world showcasing their musical contributions to humanity. Atmospherically though, the duo brings back some of that deliciously darkened neoclassical darkwave ambience so deftly dominant on albums like "Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun." Vocally, this one is pretty much wordless (in English at least) and vocals are only present to provide supplemental instrumentation. While Gerard dominates "Act I," Perry finally joins in on "Act II" where the duo provide a call and response effect that is surely summoning the proper gods for more wine! DIONYSUS is truly the Gerard and Perry show. They play all the instruments heard and the ethnic musical styles range from Iranian and Turkish folk to Byzantine chant, Balkan and Greek folk and their usual ambient and new age atmospheric dressing.

After all is listened to and done, it is apparent that nobody can crank out an ethnically charged quite like the dualistic synergy of Lisa Gerrard and Brenden Perry. While clearly not as dark or anywhere as gothic as their earliest recordings, DIONYSUS is a beautifully presented journey into the beauty of planet Earth through music. The music creates a fairly danceable (in a bellydance sort of way) rhythmic parade into the world of ethnic folk which implements many sounds from field recordings to augment the authenticity of this caravan throughout the world. While some may find this to be a tad cheesy and belongs on something like the Putumayo label or something, i would have to wholeheartedly disagree but then again i'm an ethnomusicologist at heart and have a soft spot for exotic musical sounds from all across the world and this one delivers a masterful mix of those sounds in perfect harmony without missing a beat. While i personally liked "Spiritchaser," this one is a bit more dynamic and diverse. In short, a great comeback.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars At last, Dead Can Dance released their new album 'Dionysus' 6 years after their last studio release and their 9th studio release overall. Seeing as I am a huge fan of Dead Can Dance, I've been waiting for this one patiently. I was hoping to be the first to review it here, but I see Silly Puppy beat me to the punch, but that's okay. It's good to see others here with a passion for this music. Besides, I'm sure I'll get my revenge 'Bwah-hah-hah'! This album is made up of two tracks, or Acts, each one having subsections, or divisions.

The first Act has 3 parts, while the second has 4 parts. The first act is called 'Sea Bourne' and is about Dionysus's voyage by boat. The subsections are 'Sea Bourne' (6:44), 'Liberator of Minds' (5:20) and 'Dance of the Bacchantes' (4:35).

'Sea Borne' starts with waves and a deep bass rumble representing a fog or ship's horn. Soon a tribal rhythm starts up with the sound of various traditional and modern instruments and a percussive pattern. There are some wordless vocals that are probably processed into harmonics almost in a classical choir style. Immediately, the music carries you away, as their music seems to do. The music is mostly instrumental and the vocals act as another instrument here. The music is also surprisingly accessible and bright.

'Liberator of Minds' continues with a slower rhythm and a more folkish feel to it, sort of a middle eastern and European vibe mix. There are also natural effects that we have heard in past albums and more wordless vocals. 'Dance of the Bacchantes' has a quicker rhythmic pattern established early on with tribal vocals and atmosphere.

This first act has very little vocals except as used in an instrumental style, and when they are used, they are not at the forefront as much as they are used as atmospheric purposes. This half of the album takes you away on a voyage and works well as music to meditate to or just lose yourself in. It would also work well as background music, but DCD's music always demands to be listened to for the absolute quality of the music.

Act II is called 'The Mountain' and is made up of 4 subsections called 'The Mountain' (5:34), 'The Invocation' (4:56), 'The Forest' (5:04) and 'Psychopomp' (3:53). This act is about Dionysus' birth, transformation to a God and afterlife.

'The Mountain' starts off with a low drone which is soon joined by a lone celtic instrument. A slow dirge-like rhythm starts to drive it forward and other instruments join. Both Brendan and Lisa start singing together for the first time on this album. Lyrics are in the band's usual language which stresses the voice as more of an instrument. Then we hear the drone softly with chimes ringing as things turn ambient for a short time.

'The Invocation' starts with Lisa's vocals alone and then accompanied by bass and percussion with a tribal choir. Soon a beautiful melody on plucked strings starts in between Lisa's verses and this alternates for a while. Other interesting sounds continue as traditional instruments are introduced into the song. This is the music that we all come to Dead Can Dance for! Simply amazing.

'The Forest' starts with natural sounds and then Brendan's vocals come in accompanied by a mid tempo percussion, still keeping the tribal feel that has been prevalent throughout the album. There are also harmonized vocals behind everything. The addition of more harmony is a huge plus on this album. Also, the fact that this time around there are no English lyrics make everything so much more authentic. But even so, the album continues to be easily accessible and beautiful. Strings are very prominent in this track and give everything a very lush feeling.

'Psychopomp' is a slower and more ambient track with a repeated percussive pattern and Brendan and Lisa singing together. It closes the album on a peaceful note that resonates with the listener after all is finished.

Overall, this album has a very tribal feel, yet remains accessible and lovely throughout. If there is a band that does World Music at it's best, it is Dead Can Dance, who proved they were more than just a typical Gothic rock band, who even after all this time, still proves that they are the ones who everyone should think of when someone mentions atmospheric world music with beautiful tribal rhythms that can take you places that you may never physically visit, but still feels familiar to you. They continue to produce music that does not follow the norm, as they are not ones to follow any fad. They are authentic Prog- Folk musicians who don't compromise their sound.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lisa and Brendan are back with what may well be their best Dead Can Dance album ever. Though partitioned into two suites, I cannot help but treat each "movement" as its own entity, its own song, as they each have very separate sounds and stylings.

ACT I (16:39)

- "Sea Borne" (6:45) typical layering of simple Middle Eastern and mediæval tones, melodies and instrument sounds which is augmented by a many-layered "chorale" of Lisa's vocal tracks. Relaxing, joyful, processional, cinematic, and beautiful. (9.5/10)

- "Liberator of Minds" (5:22) a different set of Middle Eastern "instruments" with different pacing and feel. Though possessing several nice melodies and a nice hand drum pace-setter, this one lacks strong, central vocal presence. (8.5/10)

- "Dance of the Bacchantes" (4:32) feels more contiguous with "Liberator" due to the use of the same hand drum for the rhythm setter. More vocal use--some imitative of animals and human revelry--coupled with a brisker pace make this one a bit more interesting. (8.75/10)

ACT II (19:27)

- "The Mountain" (5:35) slow meditative Middle Eastern music making me feel as if I'm walking through a desert village with the very real chance of running across Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi. Both Brendan and Lisa's voices are used here in a kind of slow call-and-response format. The sound of the bleating of mountain goats and animal neck bells join this song to the next. (9/10)

- "The Invocation" (4:51) with only hand cymbols and djembe-like bass to provide rhythm, Lisa uses multiple tracks to present a vocal-based music quite like the female choir of Bulgarian folk singers known from the Le Mystère des voix Bulgares albums of the 1980s. Hammered zithers, bowed rabab (?) and hand drum and clap tracks eventually join in to fill the sections between Lisa's Bulgarian sections. Masterful. (10/10)

- "The Forest" (5:31) opens with electro-pop synth drums before African male singing enters. Brendan's vocal track(s) are backed by electro-pop bass and drums while alternated by zither and rabab like synths. Later, the Youssou N'dour-like voice is joined by multiple tracks of female choral singers á la MIRIAM STOCKLEY from the ADIEMUS records of the late 1990s. Electro-synth "jungle" noises are used to bleed this song into the final one. (8.5/10)

- "Psychopomp" (3:30) involves some very simple single voice singing by both Brendan and Lisa, in separate tracks playing off of one another, all performed over a very simple, austere soundscape of breathy flutes and hand percussives like shells and nuts, rainstick, bass drum, and Hamza El-Din like frame drums. (9/10)

A masterpiece of electro-simp world folk music rated down for its 36-minute length.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Dionysus is an excellent follow-up to the neoclassical dark wave group's 2012 album Anastasis. It gives their typical world-infused dark wave sound a pagan, almost "tribal" spin. This album, unlike many of the band's albums, is split up into two long suites, rather than a series of tracks (it is ... (read more)

Report this review (#2240549) | Posted by tempest_77 | Sunday, July 28, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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