Dead Can Dance
Dionysus


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dewinged USER (34 Reviews)
November 6th, 2018 | 72 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The elusive spirit has been caught. Now it burns for the god of wine.

It was 1996 when Dead Can Dance, the duo formed by Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, decided to enter a long hibernation period that would freeze the project for a total of 16 years. Spiritchaser was the album created to send off the band's successful career after almost two decades of existence. It was an album that conveyed their most spiritual expression, dissociating them with the neoclassical darkwave style of their origins. It wasn't until 2012 that a long due and unexpected reunion would take place.

An album called Anastasis (meaning "resurrection" in Greek), was the flag bearer of said awaited return. The 8th album of the band encompassed all their influences into an hour-long piece of music. From the early post punk of their debut to the soundtrack-friendly epics of past albums like Into the Labyrinth, the band recovered their distinctively exotic sound, as well as the unmistakable voices of both Gerrard and Perry. Where Anastasis served as a reflection on their legacy as Dead Can Dance, the band may have realized that the direction they had set with Spiritchaser hadn't been explored further, being only a scratch on the surface of what could transcend if they would fully embrace the ethnic character of their pre-hiatus album.

Five years has been the time that Dead Can Dance have needed to create Dionysus, the band's 9th album and a rightful successor to Spiritchaser. Where the latter feasted on African roots, using a wide variety of percussion and rhythmic patterns derived from the southern continent, Dionysus brings their music towards the middle and southern east parts of Europe. Dead Can Dance’s last release is an album impregnated with everything that the duo has experimented through their previous musical endeavors, but also a step forward in their ceaseless search for new and fascinating sounds.

Dionysus, as the name clearly states, is a work centered on the life of the Greek god of festivities. It's divided in two acts, with each track serving as a tiny window into the life of the god and the nature of his cult. Hence, the opening track "Sea Borne" may represent the believe that Dionysus was captured by pirates when he was only a child. "The Mountain" could refer to Mount Nysa, the place where some beliefs place his upbringing, while "Psychopomp" could be his portrayal as the guide of mortal souls to the underworld.

It's not strange that an album about the god of wine would sound as festive as Dionysus does. The joyous chants of dancing "maenads" and the entrancing clatter and jangle of erected satyrs playing unfamiliar instruments frolic freely through the album's first act as a procession for the deity, while the second act gently winds down the celebration with a serene, meditative tone. Through my research of the instruments used in Dionysus, I came across unusual names like the zurna, a sort of flute used in Algerian music or the bowed psaltery, a not plucked zither of German origin. Both are examples of Brendan Perry’s unrequited love for extraneous instruments. Furthermore, field recordings and even bird calls are also used in Dionysus to enhance the feeling of presence across the seven tracks that form the duo's latest adventure. On the other hand, Lisa Gerrard's singing also departs in some moments from her classical temper, showing a more primal approach in songs like "Dance of the Bacchantes", where the celebratory tone reaches one of the album's most hypnotic climaxes.

The androgynous nature of the Greek god could also be mirrored in how Perry and Gerrard have approached their singing in Dionysus. While the crooning of Perry is still present in songs like first single "The Mountain", Gerrard's blessed voice soon joins him, creating a jaunting dichotomy that echoes the god's seemingly ambiguous sexuality. The schism that gave them their own space in one of their most emblematic albums, Within the Realm of the Dying Sun, fades with grace in Dionysus in favor of a more intertwined vocal scheme. In a lighter sense, each one of them still have their moment under the spotlight: "The Invocation" features Lisa Gerrard prominently, her soulful voice shining with a dim light in a way that feels ancient and almost motherly. "The Forest", on the other hand could have been included as it is in Spiritchaser. Brendan Perry's vocals channel a nurturing, foreign melody in the familiar but still unknown language of Dead Can Dance.

With Dionysus, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard seem determined to celebrate. It doesn't matter the reason why; it may be the fact they are still making wonderful music after all these years, or just because the god of wine so demands it but the history of Dead Can Dance has a new chapter, and it's up to you to join or not their rapturous parade.



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user ratings (46)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
November 6th 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Probably the longest review I've ever written so sorry for the wall of text. This is little over a 4 for me but well, I hope I did it justice.



Check the video for "The Mountain" here to get a taste:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7em5haBGxz4





Digging: Azusa - Heavy Yoke

BallsToTheWall
November 6th 2018


48999 Comments


Hell yeah! I was hyped for this.

Digging: Protector - Golem

BallsToTheWall
November 6th 2018


48999 Comments


Also, sweet review bud.

Flugmorph
November 6th 2018


19711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

alright then buddy, my mum about to get this gifted for her birthday today. it better b gud 👀

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Dewinged
November 6th 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, birdman, that's a lot of pressure, hope she digs, and thanks Balls!

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
November 6th 2018


9092 Comments


Look who’s on a reviewing roll...





: ]

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2018


17848 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Great review, pos'd. This isn't one of their best but there's a lot to like about it. A little better than Spiritchaser and maybe Aion too.

Digging: Thom Yorke - Suspiria

Dewinged
November 6th 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is all your fault Noct ;)

Papa Universe
November 6th 2018


18102 Comments


Well, lookie here, dead can POS

Digging: Selvans - Faunalia

Flugmorph
November 6th 2018


19711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

they really needed the money with this one



have you guys seen the promotional campaign they let off for this?

Hawks
November 6th 2018


62449 Comments


Flugmen

Digging: Senses Fail - Life Is Not a Waiting Room

DoofDoof
November 6th 2018


797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Maybe they’re trying to snake charm money straight out of wallets?

Digging: The Bathers - Sweet Deceit

Dewinged
November 6th 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can you blame them? I mean, the family gotta eat.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2018


17848 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I was pleasantly surprised to learn how popular Dead Can Dance are when I got into them these past couple years. The amount of likes on their Facebook posts and Youtube play counts are comparable to mainstream acts, not pop stars or anything but maybe a big rock band, which I was surprised by given how esoteric and weird they are.

Flugmorph
November 6th 2018


19711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sure are a lot of 40-50 somethings that dabbled in the goth and/or spiritual aesthetic once and stayed for the music.

Dewinged
November 6th 2018


12170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We were all goth once Flug, now we go to joga.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
November 6th 2018


9092 Comments


This is all your fault Noct ;)


Sorry not soz

Dettlaff
November 6th 2018


193 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Ha, no way, this is awful by their standards. Makes me think I'm at a hippy party.

Digging: Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

Flugmorph
November 6th 2018


19711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i am fueled with righteous rage

theBoneyKing
November 6th 2018


15498 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah Talons they were pretty well known by the 4AD crowd in the 90s. My mom was a fan back then.

Digging: The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters



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