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
  • Greg Kot picks the year's top albums -- so far

    Greg Kot picks the year's top albums -- so far

    We're at the halfway point of 2012, as good a time as any to check up on the year's best music so far. I'm not making any claims about where the following albums will end up on my year-end list, but at the moment I can't get enough of them. Time tends to even things out, but a good sign for the...

  • No fixes in sight for state budget, CPS pension payment

    No fixes in sight for state budget, CPS pension payment

    Facing a day of multiple deadlines, Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol on Tuesday little closer to coming up with a new state budget or helping Chicago Public Schools deal with a deadline for a massive pension payment.

  • Donald Trump says cops should be tougher on Chicago crime

    Donald Trump says cops should be tougher on Chicago crime

    Businessman Donald Trump brought his nascent bid for the Republican presidential nomination to town Monday, warning that crime in Chicago is "out of control" and hurting the city's image worldwide.

  • South Carolina church shooting shines spotlight on media treatment of white, black suspects

    South Carolina church shooting shines spotlight on media treatment of white, black suspects

    I have been to the Grammy Awards. I have had features written about my music in Billboard, XXL, Jet and other magazines I've always loved. Oprah Winfrey told me to my face that she loves my dreads and purple eyebrows. My music is played on TV shows and movies, and I write about my opinionated views...

  • 'Magic Mike XXL' is the summer's best sequel so far

    'Magic Mike XXL' is the summer's best sequel so far

    2012’s “Magic Mike” and its sequel, “Magic Mike XXL,” could have been so stupid, and I’m sure those who haven’t seen either one assume that they are. I mean, think of how cheesy a movie about male strippers could be. Based on the commercials, they barely seem like movies at all—just two-hour thrust-athons...

  • Vince Staples' sprawling double album 'Summertime '06' is relentlessly gritty

    Vince Staples' sprawling double album 'Summertime '06' is relentlessly gritty

    Vince Staples deals in pessimism, for good reason. The Long Beach rapper has seen a lot of violence and despair in his 21 years. He'll tell you about it too, in unflinching clarity that few artists his age possess. There’s little if any hope in his music. Yet even with the darkness oozing out of...

  • RedEye's favorite songs of 2015 (so far)

    RedEye's favorite songs of 2015 (so far)

    As we reach 2015's midpoint, it's clear that the year in music has been incredible, with a little bit of everything, from classic soul, rap, emo, '70s funk, grunge and scorching Southern rock to searing punk, bubblegum pop and jazz fusion. In particular, Kendrick Lamar's rap-funk masterpiece "To...

  • RedEye's 25 favorite albums of 2015 (so far)

    RedEye's 25 favorite albums of 2015 (so far)

    As we reach 2015's midpoint, it's clear that the year in music has been incredible, with a little bit of everything from classic soul, rap, emo, '70s funk, grunge and scorching Southern rock to searing punk, bubblegum pop and jazz fusion. In particular, Kendrick Lamar's rap-funk masterpiece "To...

Comments
Loading