Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance is a band composed of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. Formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1981 and initially based there, it disbanded in 1998, but reunited temporarily for a world tour in 2005.

Though the band was formed in Australia, Gerrard and Perry moved soon after to London, where after one year it signed with alternative rock label 4AD Records. The band, along with other members Scott Rodger, Peter Ulrich, Paul Erikson and James Pinker, continued to work closely together until the late 1980s. Through the 1990s, with various lineup changes, the band evolved into a duo. Eventually Gerrard and Perry started to grow apart. Gerrard returned to Australia, while Perry moved to Ireland, where he bought the old Quivvy Church in which he now lives and works.

The album artwork of their self titled first album, which depicted a ritual mask from New Guinea, provided a visual interpretation of the meaning of the name Dead Can Dance.

In the United States, the group's albums were not released until the mid 1990s, when 4AD had a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records. After this deal ended, 4AD allied itself with the Beggar's Banquet Group, which included that eponymous label and XL Recordings in the US, but the band's recordings remained distributed through Warner Bros. Records. Subsequent releases, however, have been licensed to Rhino/Atlantic Records, a sister label within Warner Music. A Passage in Time remains with 4AD independently of the Rhino and Warner Bros. deals.

A 1998 follow-up album to their last album Spiritchaser was planned, but the band separated before it was largely realized. One song that was to have appeared on it was fully recorded in the studio and is titled The Lotus Eaters. Though the album was never completed, this song was eventually released on the box set Dead Can Dance (1981-1998) and on the 2-disc Wake.

Many unofficial live bootlegs exist of concerts spanning their career, which contain several rare songs that were only performed live. Though Toward the Within is the duo's only official live album, Dead Can Dance released limited-edition recordings of 13 shows from its 2005 European tour, and 8 recordings from the subsequent North American tour, as well as a compilation titled Selections from Europe 2005. These concerts were recorded and released by The Show.

On March 28, 2010, in an interview for Bulgaria’s Katehizis.com online music magazine, Perry revealed about the possibility of a future Dead Can Dance reunion: "Yes, I’ve been talking about it with Lisa [Gerrard]. Maybe in the end of next year we’ll start work again. We’ve been talking about doing something like taking a small chamber orchestra – 10 or 15 people – and tour with them. And we have to write songs. We have to write new material – totally new – so the whole, entire set will be a new album. Then we’ll go into the studio after the tour, record, produce and release a record as well."

Dead Can Dance in films and TV

One of the band's more noteworthy tracks features in Episode 1, Season 5 of The West Wing. "Sanvean" can be heard during the poignant final scene when members of the Bartlett family are attending a private church service following the kidnapping of the youngest daughter, Zoey.

Another dramatic scene can be found in the movie Unfaithful where two songs from Spiritchaser are heard simultaneously: "Devorzhum", a soft lullaby, is superimposed over "Dedicacé' Outò".

One can find snippets of Dead Can Dance's music permeating popular culture:

* "Summoning of the Muse" from Within the Realm of a Dying Sun was used as an introduction for a national women's gymnastics program; Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy also used it as an intro for their last tour. The song was also used in the trailer for the 1998 film Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett; however, the song was not featured in the actual film.

* Portions of "De Profundis" from Spleen and Ideal and "Nierika" and "Song of the Stars" from Spiritchaser were used as a theme and background in a Pioneer Productions/Channel 4/Discovery Channel/ABC TV documentary program on black holes featuring Homer Simpson.

* The opening of "The Host of Seraphim" from The Serpent's Egg was used in a trailer for the film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and is featured in the Japanese CGI film Vexille 2077 Nihon Sakoku. It is also used in the 2002 film Ripley's Game starring John Malkovich.

* A mixed version of "The Host of Seraphim" was used in the trailer of the 2006 Iraq War drama Home Of The Brave starring Curtis Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, and Brian Presley. The song was not featured in the actual film.

* "The Host of Seraphim" also plays over the final scenes of Frank Darabont's big-screen adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist, which performed well at the box office and received generally favorable reviews.

* "The Host of Seraphim" creates a mournful tone in the heart-wrenching scenes of poverty in Baraka.

* "The Host of Seraphim" plays over parts of Jeremy Clarkson's review of the Ford Fiesta in Top Gear series 12, episode 6.

* "The Host of Seraphim" plays at a pivotal part near the end of Zack Snyder's big-screen adaptation of Kathryn Lasky's Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

* Another mixed version of "The Host of Seraphim" appears during the helicopter evacuation scene from Nick Broomfield's war drama, Battle for Haditha.

* "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)" is played subtly over scenes depicting concentration camps and torture chambers in Baraka.

* "How Fortunate the Man With None" is used in La Sirène Rouge, a French movie adapted from a book by Maurice G. Dantec.

* "Rakim" is heard during the opening scenes/magic act of the CSI season 3 episode "Abra Cadaver".

* "De Profundis" is heard in the opening of all the discs containing "Origins & Oracles" by Michael Tsarion. Tsarion is a big fan of the group.

* "De Profundis" is heard during the initial transformation scene of the Italian horror movie Dèmoni 2.

* "The Carnival is Over" is heard during the finale of the movie S. Darko, the sequel to the movie Donnie Darko.

* "Severance" was used in the Miami Vice episode Victims of Circumstance (season 5, episode 16).

* A cover version of "Enigma of the Absolute" is used in the Civilization IV game modification Fall from Heaven 2 as the theme song of the Runes of Kilmorph religion.

* Many Pakistanis can identify the lyrics of the song "Saldek", as it was used as the musical theme in commercials for the Don Carlos range of Servis, a local shoe-making company.

Cover versions of Dead Can Dance songs

The shoegazing band Ride recorded a version of "Severance," which was released on the 2003 album Waves. Australian death metal band Abramelin covered "Cantara". Bauhaus performed "Severance" during its 1998 reunion tour, and included a studio version on the album Gotham. Czech folk/doom metal band Silent Stream of Godless Elegy released their version of "Summoning of the Muse" and "Cantara" in 1998 on the Behind the Shadows album. The band still sometimes performs "Cantara" during their live shows. Norwegians Ulver covered "In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings" also Helena Iren Michaelsen's band Imperia covered "The Lotus Eaters" in 2004 on the tribute album, The Lotus Eaters. Progressive doom rock band Noekk covered the song "How Fortunate the Man With None" which also appeared on The Lotus Eaters together with Hortus Animae's medley of "Windfall / Summoning Of The Muse" in cooperation with Liv Kristine. Gothic metal band Paradise Lost covered "Xavier" in 2002, which appeared as a bonus track on the limited edition version of the Symbol of Life album. Dutch rockers The Gathering released their cover of "In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated" in 1997 on the Kevin's Telescope EP. This version was re-released in 2005 on a compilation of B-sides, live material and other rarities. Sarah Brightman covered the song "Sanvean" on her 2008 album Symphony. Celluloide covered the song "In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated" on their 2008 LP Naphtaline. Piano Magic performed live "Advent" on their European tour in 2008. Canadian industrial band Post Death Soundtrack covered the song "Anywhere Out of the World", posting it on their official website in 2009.

Samples of Dead Can Dance tracks in other works

* British Pop duo No-Man used a voice sample from "Song of Sophia" in their song "Simple" from the 1994 album Flowemouth

* The Future Sound of London used samples taken from "Dawn of the Iconoclast" as core elements of its 1992 track "Papua New Guinea."

* Intermix, a.k.a. Front Line Assembly, used samples from "The Song of Sophia" on their song "Monument (Lost Classic Mix)".

* “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” was sampled by hip hop producer 4th Disciple on the track “Blood for Blood” by the group Killarmy, which appeared on its album Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars.

* Orkidea used a lengthy sample from "The Host of Seraphim" in his 1999 single "Unity" which appeared on the second Gatecrasher compilation album "Red".


The Dead Can Dance catalog was remastered by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and released in June 2008 by 4AD, initially on hybrid stereo SACDs, with a regular CD release of each album following in November 2008. This reissue series includes all eight albums and the Garden of the Arcane Delights EP.


* Dead Can Dance (1984)


* Spleen and Ideal (1986)


* Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (1987)


* The Serpent's Egg (1988)


* Aion (1990)


* Into the Labyrinth (1993)


* Toward the Within (live album) (1994)


* Spiritchaser (1996)


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