Saturday, August 18, 2012
Dead Can Dance : Anastasis
Even though I have tickets to see them in couple of weeks I had no clue this was coming out until stumbling across the torrent for this so lets get into the first album in 16 years.
Right off the bat on the opener "Children of the Sun" Brendan Perry's voice sounds great, sure there's the whole new age lounge music vibe it conjures. The synth brass in the last minute creates a nice build and as you can expect a collage of varied instrumentation begins to color the edges of the song.
Lisa first sings on the second track "Anabasis" it's no "host of the Seraphim" but slightly moody. This one has taken the most listens to drag me into it, further listens cause me to appreciate the layers in the percussion,I would like to have been a fly on the wall for these sessions as it's often hard to make a clear differentiation as to what instruments are electronically generated and which are acoustic. After 16 years I would have like for a more dramatic return from Lisa and might not have minded if this song fell later in the album.
"Agape" brings out the opium den slink I was waiting for and is automatically classic Dead Can Dance.
"amnesia" starts off in a straight forward piano and drum pattern, very western in feel and lending credence to any goth label they have accumulated or if Leonard Cohen was covering a Sade song.
Kiko- builds from an almost trip hop beat into a sensual slither of sitar.
ironically the percussive "Opium" picks up the pace ever so slightly, Brendan's croon returns and though the lyrics aren't about drug use, they are about escape I do find myself wondering in the songs ethereal pulse about what their drug consumption has been like over the years because like all their other albums this one would be perfect to either get high or have sex to. I have already written a sex and music blog so look for a druggies guide to metal perhaps? Which brings us to why aside from the fact they are awesome am I writing a review on a very non-metal band who at first listen has even less in common with metal than Swans who are at least heavy just in another sense.
Well this along with the rest of Dead Can Dances body of work is dark enough for me to qualify it for this blog, so if the Cure or Fields of Nephillim puts out another album expect for it to get reviewed as well. Dead Can Dance has influenced a multitude of folk metal, and doom metal bands like My Dying Bride, Night Wish, Rotting Christ, and most that have any sort of gothic influence to their sound.
"Return of the She-king" sounds like a pulp fantasy novel with a drag queen Conan as it's protagonist, it has a languid majesty to like the love them from Conan and moves like a procession piece. The effects on the vocal mix gives Lisa's voice more of a Cocteau Twins feel. I was won over on this one where Perry's vocals come in, have always wanted to hear more interplay between their voices.
Perry's voice goes into more dramatic places on this one than Lisa, the crescendo he brings to the first verse of "all in good time" is impressive for a singer of his age to belt like that and his voice has a very warm resonance to it. A simple arrangement of strings behind his voice. In some ways it might be considered anti climactic, but this album is dynamically subdued , I wouldn't call it flat, in some ways it reminds me of Sade's "lovers rock" album in tone as both are subdued through out.
In scoring this album , the only competition Dead Can Dance has is themselves, so measuring this up to their previous work it is indeed comparable, the production value might even be better, in terms of mood it seems more sensual than the transcendental nature of other albums, so I could argue it doesn't have the epic lord of the rings soundtrack feel, perhaps this is due to where in their lives Perry and Gerrad are. I could certainly have stood to have hear Perry playing more guitar, his sense of Bardic Americanna I felt alway created an interesting juxtaposition of sound to their albums. There is something very enduring and bittersweet about listening to this knowing this is more than likely the last time I will hear studio work from them, so it's a very relaxed goodbye. I would have to give this one a 9.5, as I feel when put up against their other other more dynamic albums, it might not be as consistant bwent he marks they do hit side side by side with their best. It could grow on me over time and will probably not be thought of in any different light than the rest of their discography,and let's face even mediocre Dead Can Dance is still better than almost everything else.