Dead Can Dance – Debut

Artist: Dead Can Dance

Genre: Rock, Gothic rock, Post-punk, World
Title: Self-titled
Label: 4AD
Format: CD
Musicians:Lisa Gerrard, Brendan Perry, James Pinker, Scott Roger, Peter Ulrich
Producer: John Fryer

Dead Can Dance is an Australian musical project formed in 1981 in Melbourne by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. Dead Can Dance’s style is constructed of African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern mantras and art rock. Having disbanded in 1998, they reunited briefly in 2005 for a world tour and reformed in 2011, releasing a new album (Anastasis) and embarking on several tours.

From Wikipedia: Dead Can Dance formed in Melbourne, Australia in August 1981 with Paul Erikson on bass guitar, Lisa Gerrard on vocals, Simon Monroe on drums and Brendan Perry on vocals and guitar. Gerrard and Perry were a domestic couple who met as members of Melbourne’s Little band scene. In May 1982, the band left Monroe in Australia and moved to London, England, where they signed with alternative rock label 4AD. With the duo, the initial United Kingdom line-up were Paul Erikson and Peter Ulrich.

The group’s debut album, Dead Can Dance, was released in February 1984. The artwork, which depicts a ritual mask from New Guinea, “provide[s] a visual reinterpretation of the meaning of the name Dead Can Dance” set in a faux Greek typeface. The album featured “drum-driven, ambient guitar music with chanting, singing and howling” and fit in with the ethereal wave style of label mates Cocteau Twins. They followed with a four-track extended play, Garden of the Arcane Delights in August. AllMusic described their early work as “as goth as it gets” (despite the group themselves rejecting the label).

Dead Can Dance is the debut studio album by Australian musical act Dead Can Dance. It was released in February 1984 by record label 4AD. This album differs greatly from later Dead Can Dance releases in its incorporation of post-punk and gothic rock musical styles. From Wikipedia: Dead Can Dance commented regarding the name of the band and album: “To understand why we chose the name, think of the transformation of inanimacy to animacy. Think of the processes concerning life from death and death into life. So many people missed the inherent symbolic intention of the work, and assumed that we must be “morbid gothic types”.

While not mentioned in the missing liner notes: The instrumentation consisted of guitars, bass guitar and drums, with added percussion and the very distinct sound of the yangqin, as played by Gerrard. Yup, one of the really bad things about CDs, especially early ones. All one got was a slip card in front of the jewel case for the cover with no notes anywhere.

I also would like to point out that the CD version at least, has terrible sonics. While that is no surprise, I suspect that some of the LP was not well recorded either so I don’t know how that would have translated to vinyl.

1. “The Fatal Impact” – This instrumental opener has an industrial goth flavor and a drum machine is used, which is unusual for this band afterwards. From Wikipedia: The beginning sample on “The Fatal Impact” was taken from the 1964 film Zulu, and was recorded off of a television broadcast onto a cassette player. The drum machine used was built into the same cassette player. The percussion featured in the track consisted of three upturned, empty five-gallon paint tins tied together. This unorthodox instrumentation was one of the main reasons this song was not performed live at the time
2. “The Trial” – This alternative rock tune is one of my favorites from the album, but nothing much to note. Brandan Perry takes the lead vocals. This song seems to be inspired from the novel of the same name by Franz Kafka, which would be no surprise, if true.
3. “Frontier” – This tune has a world (African) flavor with Lisa Gerrard taking vocals. This is what Dead Can Dance is more known for in subsequent albums.
4. “Fortune” – This was recorded poorly it seems. This is an Alternative/post punk song that has a slight Bauhaus flavor with Brandan Perry taking vocals
5. “Ocean” – This is another example of what would be DCD’s signature, but this particular tune is not their best work. Lisa Gerrard takes vocals here.
6. “East of Eden” – We finally break away from the drum machine here. This song is more of a dark groove type. Brandan Perry takes vocals here and this is one of the better sounding songs on the LP.
7. “Threshold” – Sadly, this seems to be another poorly recorded song. This tune has a industrial/psychedelic rock flavor and Lisa Gerrard handles the vocals.
8. “A Passage in Time” – This tune is more of a goth rock feel with Bradan Perry handling vocals. Unfortunately, we are back to the drum machine here, but this is still one of the better sounding songs on the album.
9. “Wild in the Woods” – This alternative/dark psych flavored song finds us back to using real drums again with Brandan Perry picking up vocals. This is one of the better songs.
10. “Musica Eternal” – The fade-in to this song sounds like it may be done with strings, but it is actually done with voice. DCD became known for using their voices as instruments and they pulled it off live too. The very distinct sound you hear in this tune is of the yangqin, as played by Gerrard.

This CD has four extra tracks on it which comprise The Arcane EP.
1). Carnival Of Light – This song is the DCD signature and real drums are used.
2). In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated – How’s that for a song title? The fade in on this is the sound of thunderstorm. The vocals are handled by Brandan Perry and sort of reminiscent of Peter Murphy. This song has a Goth rock flavor and is just a good song.
3). The Arcane – This is a dark alternative style song
4). Flowers of The Sea –  This is a world style song and part of what DCD is known for.


In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated:

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