Music Reviews

Dead Can Dance: The Serpent’s Egg/Aion/Spiritchaser – album reviews

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The Serpent’s Egg/Aion/Spiritchaser (4AD)


Released 17 March, 2017

09/10 09/10 09/10

The dead dance again.

4AD, over the course of a year, have been re-issuing their entire catalogue of Dead Can Dance’s albums. The final three will be released in March. All the releases have been beautiful re-issues from 4AD and the final three are no different. They showcase a band who took from the past to create beautiful, timeless music.

The Serpent’s Egg was released in 1988. It’s a sparse album. Minimalist sounds create a backdrop to Perry and Gerrard’s vocals. But less is more. Gerrard’s vocals ululate across desert sands, a cry of the soul in the void or echo in a cathedral, rising up, searching the heavens. Perry is more modern vocals and the dichotomy, rather than creating tension, creates a symbiotic whole.

Aion, released in 1990, relies heavily on Renaissance and Middle Ages musical forms. What is astonishing is that it’s impossible to tell which are traditional arrangements and which are Dead Can Dance’s. They resist the urge to modernise the forms, thus creating something that is timeless, and show that a popular art form can transcend categorisation. Again there is a sparsity to the music, with the vocals to the fore.

Spiritchaser, released in 1996, moves the focus to African and Caribbean tribal rhythms. But this is done with such consummate skill that there is no real sense of a change of direction, just a change of beat. Percussion comes more to the fore on this album with a sultry, sensuous back beat that drips with sun and heat, whilst the vocals chant and rise and fall across the grooves. Devorzhum, the albums closing track, sounds like the origins of the blues, Africa calling down the years. It’s a beautiful, elegiac, end to the album.

It would be sixteen years before Dead Can Dance released their next album, Anastasis.

This is music to sit down to and contemplate with. 4AD should be commended on re-issuing these wonderful records.


Dead Can Dance is on Facebook and Twitter.

This review first appeared on Louder Than War


Music Reviews

Dead Can Dance: Garden Of The Arcane Delights/Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun/Toward The Within Album Reviews

DEAD CAN DANCE within_the_realm_of_a_dying_sun
The dead dance again
8/10 9/10 8/10

4AD continue their sumptuous re-issues of Dead Can Dance with another three releases. Garden of the Arcane Delights (1984) is their only EP, here packaged with contemporary Peel Sessions. Within The Realm Of The Dying Sun (1987) is a major progression in their work with a grandiose, epic feel. Toward The Within (1993) is a live recording from Santa Monica. The band were renowned for showcasing new music live and this contains 12 previously unrecorded tracks. Too often discarded as gothic or new age, Dead Can Dance have been woefully neglected over the years.  These recordings highlight the range and scope of their talent, creating a miasma of beautiful and mysterious music that stands the test of time. An experience of aural delight.

Review published in Louder Than War Magazine Issue 7 Nov/Dec 2016