Release Date: Aug 14, 2012
Record label: PIAS / Play It Again Sam
Genre(s): New Age, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, World Fusion, Ethnic Fusion
From haunting Eastern mysticism (“Agape,” “Kiko”) to thundering percussion and cryptic eeriness (“Opium”) to neo-neo-gothic romanticism (“All In Good Time”), Anastasis is a positively rapturous return for the Dionysus and Aphrodite of modern musical transcendence. Dead Can Dance are, as ever, classicists in their penchant for grand compositional gestures, and radicals in their fearless fervor to blur the centuries and the continents, all in the pursuit of powerfully new visceral and aesthetic possibilities. .
Dead Can Dance, the long-running project of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, are inextricably linked to the 4AD that defined a different generation. Not the current one of Bon Iver or Grimes, but the one of Bauhaus, This Mortal Coil, and the Cocteau Twins-- 1980s art goth of a particular kind. But neither label nor their bands sought that tag. And since Dead Can Dance's music incorporated sounds from around the globe and across the centuries, the description seems particularly limiting.
Sixteen years may have elapsed between Anastasis and Dead Can Dance’s last full-length, but there’s an eternal and elemental quality to the Aussie duo’s music that feels like it transcends time. Resurfacing with their far-reaching, wide-ranging mix of the ancient and the futuristic, the organic and the technological, as if they have missed a beat, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry seem like they must’ve been working all the while on their own astral plane and just happened to cross over into our time-space continuum with Anastasis. As listeners are reminded of once again, theirs is music that takes what appear to be formal contradictions and resolves them in compositions that stretch across cultures and traditions, joining them in ways that are more natural and immediate than you’d imagined before they came together.
Anastasis: the Greek word for resurrection. Before you even press play, you've understood three things about Dead Can Dance's first album in 16 years: it's erudite, portentous in its introspection, and finds a band whose back catalogue is a kind of musical world tour swimming around in the Aegean sea. Actually, the most exquisite music here could be Anatolian: it feels more ancient than modern, equally Turkish and Greek.
In English, the Greek word "anastasis" is literally translated as "resurrection." The definition is apt as the title to Dead Can Dance's reunion offering, their first recording of new studio material since 1996's Spiritchaser. Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry established a well-deserved global reputation for pushing boundaries in popular music. Coming from the fringes of the gothic music world on the iconic 4AD label, they brought a sense of near classical discipline (and pretension) into their sound.
“We are the children of the sun,” sings Brendan Perry, moaning like a half-drunk Vincent Price over a strangely unsettling orchestral trip-hop groove. “There is room for everyone / sunflowers in our hair.” But this sure ain’t no freaking summer of love. Anastasis, the first studio album in 16 years from Australian duo Dead Can Dance, harnesses the brooding, multi-culti sonic perfectionism you’d expect from these highly regarded veterans (singing multi-instrumentalists Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard), with loads of glowing bagpipes and Chinese hammer dulcimer and operatic chants and ominous synths.
In our globalized 21st-century world, non-Western culture floods our musical radar, to the point where artists like tUnE-yArDs and Vampire Weekend seamlessly incorporate African influences into their sound without crossing genre boundaries. 16 years since the release of their 1996 album Spiritchaser, Dead Can Dance–the Aussie duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard–has reacted to the changing landscape of its genre by not changing that much at all. Their music, frequently noted for its mystical grandeur and enchanting quality, continues to touch a spiritual nerve in the listener.
DEAD CAN DANCE play the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts August 23. See listing. Rating: NN It's been 16 years since the last album by Dead Can Dance, and time has not been kind to the duo. Their gothic-worldbeat sound seems very dated. At first you think it's just that their style hasn't aged ….