"Agape" by Dead Can Dance
With any luck, this is a new beginning.
Dead Can Dance has resurrected, launching into its first tour since 2005, driven by its first new-material album in 16 years, “Anastasis.”
Even better news for fans: The core duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry haven’t lost their magic (and “magic” is the right word here). “Anastasis” is a breathtaking spotlight on the extraordinary voices of Gerrard and Perry backlit by a blend of mystical world music and otherworldly electronica.
The bad news is, at eight tracks and with its narrow rhythmic range, “Anastasis” doesn’t rate with 1996’s “Spiritchaser,” let alone the most classic Dead Can Dance release, 1993’s “Into the Labyrinth.”
Still, “Anastasis” feels like a gift, an unexpected surprise for fans who might have given up on hearing anything new from the duo.
Perry commandeers the grand opener, “Children of the Sun,” his cinematic croon worthy of the best Bond themes as he sings, “We are ancient, as ancient as the sun.” He’s more of a seductive soothsayer on the ponderous, dramatic “Amnesia” (“Memories set me free”), and his manly delivery is fittingly narcotic on “Opium,” though he submerges in the mix all too often for all too long.
Gerrard, who usually seems to be operating separately from Perry (the two rarely both sing on the same song), mesmerizes at the forefront of “Anabasis,” a kind of space-age, Middle-Eastern-tinged exotica accompanying her gorgeous voice. The subsequent “Agape” continues the faux-liturgical spell with stirring sensuality.
Meanwhile, on the lone joint-vocal track, “Return of the She-King,” Gerrard first sings in intoxicating vocal swells supported by everything from sleigh bells to tribal beat, and then Perry assumes the lead, soaring over the top of the mix with a chant-like refrain.
“Anastasis” could use more variety in cadence, and even if the average song length is a whopping 7 minutes, the release would benefit from a more generous offering than eight tracks. So perhaps anticipating mild disappointment from fans, Perry could be issuing a message on ghostly closer “All in Good Time” as he sings, “You taught me patience was a virtue/I took my time, let nature take her course/All was revealed/All in good time.”
Whatever the back story, it’s good to hear there’s still life in Dead Can Dance.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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