Album review: Dead Can Dance, 'Anastasis'

2.5 stars (out of 4)

In the ‘80s and through much of the ‘90s, no one sounded quite like Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, an Australian duo who injected their atmospheric tone poems with centuries-old folk and neo-classical music. Gerrard’s beautiful, wordless vocals made the music even more difficult to pin down, freeing Dead Can Dance to touch on Goth darkness, New Age mysticism, ambient drone, dream-pop melody and world-music exoticism without fully embracing any one genre.

Their last studio album appeared in 1997, suggesting that Dead Can Dance had run its course. After 16 years in which they focused on their solo work, Gerrard and Perry renew their collaboration with the unexpected and understated “Anastasis” (Pias).

In many ways, the new work is a good deal less daring and adventurous than their finest albums. It doesn’t feel like a complete melding of sensibilities, in the way masterworks such as “Aion” (1990) or “The Serpent’s Egg” (1988) once did. At times, Perry’s lyrics come off as solemn and ponderous (“We are the children of the sun/ Our kingdom will come/ Sunflowers in our hair,” he intones as if reciting from stone tablets). The music is even more glacial than usual, the stately tempos providing little variation. At first listen, these slow-moving tracks (seven of the eight clock in at well over six minutes) blend too easily with too few distinguishing traits.

But with this less melodramatic, late-period Dance Can Dance, the finer things are encoded in the details: the West Indian steel drum and low background hum of voices on “Opium,” the haunting piano notes that drift in and out of “Anabasis,” the Middle Eastern strings of “Agape.” And almost every time Gerrard enters, the skies open. She’s still the Siren from Mars, reason alone for Dead Can Dance fans to celebrate.

greg@gregkot.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge
    Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge

    An argument over a woman led to one man being killed and another wounded during a shooting inside a South Loop music lounge early Saturday, police said.

  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.

Comments
Loading