Posts Tagged ‘Gothic’

The Ritual and Rapture of Dead Can Dance.

December 10, 2012
Hear Dead Can Dance in an exclusive broadcast
live from Geneva tonight 12/16/2012 on Echoes
This article originally published in CD Review in 1990
Dead Can Dance Live 2012

Dead Can Dance Live 2012

On the day of our Exclusive broadcast of Dead Can Dances performance in Geneva in October, I unearthed this article I wrote on the band back in 1990 for CD Review Magazine.  It still seems pretty up-to-date.

Stepping into the music of Dead Can Dance is like traveling through an ancient culture and hearing an archaic language.  Only it’s a language that was never spoken until Dead Can Dance singer Lisa Gerrard gave it voice.   Lisa Gerrard sounds like she’s intoning  some arcane dialect, but according to Brendan Perry, the other half of Dead Can Dance, she’s actually creating her own hybrid language.”I suppose the best way to explain her approach to the human voice as an instrument is in a sense speaking in tongues as opposed to any particular tongue,” he stated in the New York offices of 4AD Records back in 1990 when their Aion album was released.  “They [the lyrics] all are influenced by various languages but have no syntactical meaning in any given language.”

Which doesn’t mean that Gerrard isn’t communicating anything. Her voice coils around the gothic ambiences of Dead Can Dance, creating Gregorian-like chants on “The Arrival and the Reunion” that would fit right into a monastery of the Dark Ages if it weren’t for the elaborate polyphony.  On the other hand, “Avatar” from the 1985 disc Spleen and Ideal sounds like a dervish mantra.

At the time, Gerrard was loath to assign specific meanings to her vocal flights.  In fact, the delicately boned, blonde singer rarely gave interviews back then.  She had refused to sit down for an interview with me, leaving it all to Perry.  I only got her then when she came to gather Brendan Perry. I leaned over the table, pointing my microphone in her direction and just ambushed her with questions.

“The thing that is important to me is to break the barrier of language and to communicate something without words that’s for everyone,” she stated in a painstaking cadence, as if every word is being wrenched from her soul.

Dead Can Dance from 1980s

Dead Can Dance from 1980s

Dead Can Dance got together in Australia, where their parents had emigrated from Ireland and England.  They fell in love with each other and Arabic music.  “When I first met Lisa in Australia, we were on the dole [unemployment] at the time in Melbourne.  We worked in a few Arab restaurants, Lebanese restaurants and things and they used to play middle eastern music recordings and we used to make copies of them.  We just fell in love with that music together.”

They started as a sort of doom and gloom techno-rock band, but discovered a new sound on the song “Frontier” with homemade metal percussion that sounded like a troupe of Turkish darbuka players and Gerrard taking her first stab at free vocalise.  A move to London and the 4AD label yielded their self-titled debut in 1984.

Their music is drawn from Gregorian, middle eastern and Bulgarian open-throat singing styles and surrounded by instruments like the Turkish saz, the hurdy-gurdy, and the yang ch’in, a Chinese hammered dulcimer that Gerrard plays in a style of the Persian santoor.  Combined with synthesizers and  strings, they create a ritual music.

While Lisa Gerrard keeps her meaning hidden in glossolalia, Brendan Perry is eager to articulate his thoughts through music, which might explain why he sings in a rich tenor, in English.  “I’ve always felt more inclined towards the ballads, the sense of poetry of the language,” he says.  However, on their first U. S. concert tour in the fall of 1989, he was also exploring the same ecstatic style as Gerrard.

Gerrard, however, eschews these discussions. “From an interior point of view, the work that I do is original to me,” she claims.  “There’s the exterior identification with sound and there’s the interior projection of communication which you cannot talk about.  That’s why I don’t do interviews.  Because you try to talk about that in abstracts.  And the abstracts are never understood and really it’s better to just listen to the work.”

Listening to the work of Dead Can Dance reveals a sound that’s as close as modern music comes to rapture.

Originally published in CD Review in 1990.

Here’s more on Dead Can Dance from Echoes.
2012 Echoes Dead Can Dance Interview Podcast.
Review of Latest Dead Can Dance album, Anastasis
Five Essential Dead Can Dance Albums

AND don’t forget to vote in the Best of Echoes 2012 Poll NOW!  Closes at 6AM Monday 12/17/2012

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineSign up for Echoes CD of the Month Club.

With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like Hammock’s Departure Songs coming to you each month.  Dead Can Dance’s Anastasis was a CD pick in September. Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album.

Dead Can Dance-CD of the Month.

August 30, 2012

[Hear Dead Can Dance’s Anastasis featured tonight on Echoes.]

Anastasis is  Greek for “resurrection” and that’s what happens here with Dead Can Dance, the gothic rock band who took deep atmospheres, ritual songs and supralingua dialects to ecstatic, transcendent heights in the 1980s and 90s.  There hasn’t been any new music from the band since founders Lisa Gerard and Brendan Perry broke up in ’98, first romantically and then musically.  Gerrard went on to expand the Dead Can Dance sound on a series of solo albums and film scores, including Gladiator.  Perry went into relative obscurity, until releasing his second solo album, Ark in 2011

(Good live fan footage of “Return of the She-King”)

It’s the sound of Ark, with its drum machine loops and sustained string pads that informs the first new DCD album since 1996’s rhythmically charged, globally influenced, Spiritchaser.  The rhythms of Anastasis fall into mid-tempo caravan-crossing grooves, both ominous and mystical at the same time.  He decorates those patterns with string pads and exotic percussion, including frame drums and the Hang drum on “Anabasis”, another Greek word meaning “journey up country.”  Aside from some Arabic touches and Perry’s current infatuation with the bouzouki, Anastasis sheds a lot of the world music influences heard on their last few CDs, sounding more like their work from the mid-1980s.

Lisa Gerrard’s voice is incandescent as usual. She sounds like a mother who has lost her child on “Anabasis.” But on “Agape,” she’s a wild yet heavenly seductress enticing her lover, her voice driven by her yangqin (hammered dulcimer) cycles and a whining kamencheh.  Whether intoning one of her glossolia prayers on “Kiko” or intertwining multiple vocal lines on the “Gladiator”-style lament of “Return of the She-King,” Gerrard taps a spirit deep and ancient.

Brendan Perry’s languorous voice tends toward the foreboding side of things.  No “get up and get happy” songs for him.  Singing in his chocolate-swathed baritone against surging synth strings and John Barry-style horns on “Children of the Sun,” even a flower-power line sounds like a march to the abyss.

“We are children of the sun,
Our journey’s just begun,
Flowers in our hair.”

But Perry can also hit a yearning pitch that wails in torment at the end of the world.

One of the all-to-infrequent joys of Anastasis is when Perry and Gerrard sing together. They do that on “Return of the She King” and “Children of the Sun,” and each of them comes in for a counter vocal or sings harmony, it instantly lifts the song to a new height of emotional impact.
It’s been seven years since Dead Can Dance toured, sixteen years since their last album.  Hopefully, Anastasis is a true resurrection and the beginning of a new chapter as Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry aspire to the exalted, and often attain it.

Here Anastasis featured on Echoes Monday night, 9/3/2012
Download our interview with Dead Can Dance from iTunes.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineYou get great CDs like Dead Can Dance’s  Anastasis  by becoming a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours, or Brian Eno releases a new CD.

DEAD CAN DANCE Return from the Grave.

March 22, 2012

Dead Can Dance Logo

It seemed like they’d never  get together again.  Even their 2005 reunion tour ended in acrimony, despite selling out every venue they played.  But Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are getting together again as Dead Can Dance.  They’ve been recording new music since the middle of last year and are threatening an album, and have already booked a new North American concert tour playing

Dead Can Dance: Lisa Gerrard & Brendan Perry

mid-size theatre venues like The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.  Tickets for most of their shows go on sale March 31 although there are a few before and after.

Abbess Lisa von DCD

I’ve seen DCD several times and whether playing the Keswick Theater in Philadephia or the Hollywood Bowl in LA with a full orchestra, they have never failed to be less than transcendent.

Information is on their website where they are also offering free downloads of recordings form their 2005 tour.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news.

Alu’s Casket Salesman

July 5, 2011

While we wait for a new CD by LA goth chanteuse, Alu, she’s just released a video of one of her quirkier songs from the album,  Lobotomy Sessions.  Hear interview with Alu from 2009.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Two Essential Lisa Gerrard CDs (+3)

August 4, 2010

Lisa Gerrard – The Sound of the Spirit: One of 20 Icons of Echoes.

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Lisa Gerard was the possessed vocalist with Dead Can Dance, the enigmatic group that channeled a world of sound through their electro-ethnic arrangements and the incantatory voice of Gerrard. Gerrard sings in a hybrid supralingua that sounds like a real language, but is actually a dialect of the imagination, channeling sounds from Bulgarian throat singers, gothic hymns, Siberian screams and middle eastern ululations.

Lisa Gerrard

Although Gerrard has been recording solo since 1995 and seems to have been ubiquitous in the last 15 years, she’s actually put out only three true “solo” albums.   The rest have been collaborations, film soundtracks and Eps.    While Gerrard taps into an ecstatic and serene spirit every time she sings, her albums are often spotty or very hard work to get through.  So there are only two albums I would consider essential.  I have included, at the last minute, consideration of three albums that thus far seem to only be available in Australia and on Gerrard’s website, The Black Opal, Departum with Marcello De Francisco and Come Quietly with Klaus Schulze.  There are no Dead Can Dance albums. You can see that list here.


In this collaboration with fellow Australian, Peter Bourke, Lisa Gerrard reaches her most accessible sound on a CD full of trance melodies and church like hymns, except this church has middle eastern percussion and roiling synthesizers.  I feel the spirit! This is the only Gerrard album on which I could say every track hits the mark, from the solemn march of “Pilgrimage of Lost Children” to the askance lament of “The Human Game,” which at the time was her first song actually sung in English in over a decade.  A brilliant album.

The Mirror Pool was Lisa Gerrard’s solo debut, coming on the heals of the birth of her daughter, Lashna.     With a sound that waxes and wanes in the short space between hymns and lullabies, you can hear that influence, especially on the heart-rending sound of “Sanvean,” which was written for her daughter.  She eschews the more rhythmic side of DCD’s sound in favor of shadowy chamber orchestrations.  Out of string swells, drones and tolling bells, Gerrard’s voice arises like a dark angel.

This was her first true solo album since her debut ten years earlier.  In the interim, she came to renown for her film scores like Gladiator, Ali and The Insider.  Her soundtrack work informs much of The Silver Tree,  and in fact, many of the songs come from rejected film scores, including a demo overture she recorded in 2005 for the movie “Constantine. ”  That music turns up in the epic, cinematic sweep of “Towards the Tower.”   Echoes of her theme “Now We Are Free” from Gladiator turn up in “Serenity” and “The Sea Whisperer.” Both sound like the wind-swept ghosts of Irish laments blown over the hills of Tara.    The Silver Tree was an Echoes CD of the Month in May of 2007.

Haven’t heard of this one?  Little wonder.  It’s out on Gerrard Records and as near as I can tell, doesn’t seem to be available anywhere but her site.  It’s a collaboration with Marcello De Francisci, a Los Angeles based film composer.  Some corny spoken word segments at the head of the disc don’t bode well, but it quickly yields some of Gerrard’s most rhythmically lively and vocally enraptured music since Dead Can Dance’s Spirit Chaser.

Like most soundtracks, Gladiator has a lot of filler, but there are two reasons to get this disc co-composed with Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt:  “Sorrow” and “Now We Are Free.” “Sorrow” is the lament sung when Maximus returns home to see his slaughtered family.  “Now We Are Free” is the powerfully affirming anthemic closer to the film that manages to be simultaneously mournful and triumphal.

Lisa Gerrard will be featured tonight, August 4,  on Echoes with materiel drawn from nearly a dozen interviews with the artist over the last 25 years. Echoes On-Line subscribers can hear several interviews and a live performance with Lisa Gerrard.  You can try it for a week for only $2.99.

She was voted #17 among 20 Icons of Echoes and would’ve been in the top ten if she hadn’t split the vote with Dead Can Dance who came in at 10.

You can see Five Essential Dead Can Dance CDs here.

You can also see a review of Lisa Gerrard’s collaboration with Klaus Schulze.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Dead Can Dance: 5 Steps To Ecstasy

April 15, 2010

#10 of 20 Icons of Echoes: Dead Can Dance
5 Essential Dead Can Dance Albums
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Tonight on Echoes we’ll be featuring an extended feature on Dead Can Dance as we look back on the career of this influential band who listeners voted as #10 among 20 Icons of Echoes for our 20th Anniversary.  Dead Can Dance only made 8 proper studio albums, so you’d think it would be easy to pick out five.  It isn’t, but here they are.

Dead Can Dance SPiritChaser1 Spiritchaser
It’s not often that a group’s swansong album is also one of their strongest, but Spiritchaser is still holding up.  Unlike the contemplative moods that dominate most DCD albums, Spiritchaser snarled like a trapped cat and soared like an ecstatic tribal dance.  Songs like” Nierika” and “The Snake and the Moon” were as exhuberant as anything DCD recorded, while still capturing that spirit of the other.

2 Spleen & Ideal
This was the second Dead Can Dance album and established them as gothic savants moving from Gregorian chants on “De Profundis” to 21st century chants on “Circumradiant Dawn. ” It also features one of their great forgotten songs, “Avatar” a dervish of rapturous dance.   Brendan Perry assays his epic and anthemic “The Cardinal Sin.”

3 Into the Labyrinth
This was their break-up album in many ways, recorded while their personal relationship disintegrated.  It’s little wonder, then, that Into the Labyrinth sounds like two different albums.  One is Brendan Perry’s more conventional songs and laments, harkening back to past relationships, lost youth and paths not taken including the snarling “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove.”    Gerrard, on the other hand, immerses herself in the abstractions of her uncanny vocal style, bringing Gregorian chants to the African jungle on “Yulunga” and weaving an enchantresses spell on “The Spider’s Stratagem,” all of them wordless, calling out to the spirits.

4 The Serpent’s Egg
This features some of their strongest choral writing including the epic, “Host of the Seraphim” and “The Writing of My Father’s Hand.”  Brendan gets in one of his best DCD era songs, “Severance,” a song of loss.  “Echolalia” taps a Native American gothic sound with both Gerrard and Perry singing in stacked choirs and call & response chants.

5 Aion
This might be their most Mediaeval album, full of hurdy gurdys and folk forms from the Middle Ages.  They even do a straight rendition of the 14th century “Saltarello” and render a haunting version of a 16th century Catalan tune called “The Song of The Sibyl.”  Gerrard also began tapping her Bulgarian muse.

For those who just need a sampling from across the Dead Can Dance spectrum, you could do worse than Memento, a collection that came out in 2005.   Nothing from their first album, but most of their classics are here, including “Cantara” from Within the Realm of the Dying Sun, an album that many people would include in their Top 5 DCD albums I suspect.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

The Mediaeval Baebes Modern Madrigals

March 3, 2010

The Mediaeval Baebes put the Goth into International Women’s Day on Echoes.

You can hear a podcast of the Mediaeval Baebes interview with their music.

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Mediaeval Baebes @ Echoes

Mediaeval Baebes have come a long way since the 16th century.  And the band called The Mediaeval Baebes have come even further  since singer Katherine Blake formed the group in 1997.

Kathryn Blake: Well,  I think we’ve calmed down a bit as a band. The Mediaeval Baebes used to be incredibly “rock n roll”. It was, you know, really extreme the amount of partying that goes on. So for myself, in particular, because I’ve become a mother, I’ve had to, calm down quite a bit. (laughs).

The Mediaeval Baebes brought rock attitude to the original gothic music.  But beyond the image, which has included diaphanous white gowns, dominatrix leather and vixen vamp attire, the Mediaeval Baebes sing enchanting songs from the Middle Ages with heavenly voices drenched in sensuality that can be bawdy or serene.

On their debut album, Salva Nos, they sang traditional music, but on their latest CD, Illumination, there are no songs from the Middle Ages at all.  It’s all music composed by the band.  But the Baebes never sell out their mediaeval roots, even with songs co-composed by Katherine Blake’s husband, Nick Marsh, who used to play in the group, Flesh for Lulu.

Kathryn Blake: Yeah, he’s very much from a rock and roll background, you know, so he brings, a lot of the songs are sort of song-y songs, versey-chorusy, than what I’m used to doing.

Emily Ovendon says they aren’t trying to make contemporary pop music.

Emily Ovendon:  Anything really modern would stand out. In “Sunrises” there are lyrics  “We will not be parted, Never brokenhearted.” And when I was writing it I wrote, “We will not be parted, get this party started.”  And I immediately took it out because it’s completely wrong, but it’s quite funny.
Kathryn Blake: It would break the spell if you used something too colloquial or modern.  We’re trying to put the listener in some kind of  spell instead of bringing them to reality a bit.  Which is not why people listen to the Mediaeval Baebes. They want to go somewhere else.
Emily Ovendon:  Totally.  You have to keep that enchanted realm going the whole time.

You can experience the enchanted realm of The Mediaeval Baebes when they sing live on Echoes for International Women’s Day this Monday March 8, 2010.  Their latest album is Illumination.  This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echo Location: Karda Estra’s Weird Tales

August 19, 2009

Gothic horror, progressive rock and soundtracks create the scene of Karda Estra.

You can hear an audio version of this blog, including the Karda Estra zombie chant, here.

Richard Wileman

Richard Wileman

When English composer Richard Wileman was seeking a name for his Gothic chamber music project, he looked to the movies he watched as a kid.

Richard Wileman: I’m a fan of old horror movies and there is a Hammer horror film called Plague of the Zombies and there was a voodoo chant in that goes Karda Estra or Karda Nostra or something along those lines. And, it kind of stuck with me that I was looking for a project name that hopefully nobody else had thought of. And I thought “yeah, nobody has thought about that one” so I used that.

With Karda Estra, Richard 71GGCMG4JNL._SS500_ Wileman has made albums based on Dracula, written homages to horror actor Peter Cushing and  his new album is called Weird Tales, after the pulp horror magazine. But the music of Karda Estra isn’t necessarily macabre.  In Karda Estra, Richard Wileman combines orchestral instruments, stacked choirs and the electric guitar.  He spent his youth as a headbanger.

Richard Wileman: I learned to play guitar to Black Sabbath. I think I was in the Iron Maiden fan club when I was 14. I don’t think a log a lot of people who listen to Karda Estra can imagine that

Now in his mid forties, Richard Wileman is a genial looking man who appears more like a college professor than metal monster. Even though he’s left the heavy metal behind, its Gothic horror imagery remains in his music where he finds a certain beauty.

Richard Wileman: There is a lot of beauty, mystery, all these kind of delicate themes that are also present in something like a Mary Shelley in Frankenstein or Stoker, and kind of not just in the horror genre. There are themes that we all can think about, love,  life and death and all this kind of stuff.

Richard Wileman is an eclectic musician and he tries to bring all of his influences to bear on Karda Estra.  The result is, that like many of his inspirations that come from the netherworld, Karda Estra’s music lives between worlds. Weird Tales

Richard Wileman: I needed to create a world for myself where all my influences could be encompassed.  I am interested in soundtrack music; I am interested in classical music, experimental music, all these different things.” including I really like lounge music and a lot of library stuff.  So, really I created this musical project where any influence and anything that inspired me went.

The latest album from Richard Wileman’s Karda Estra is called Weird Tales on the Cyclops Record Label. I’ll have a fuller interview with Richard Wileman this Monday 8/24/09, on Echoes.  This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Plague 6305650632

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