With each album Dead Can Dance turn to a different place in time and space. With “Aion” the time and place is the French Renaissance. From jaunty jigs to mystical chants, the album delights from one end to the other.
“The Arrival and the Reunion” opens the album with a powerful chant led by Lisa Gerrard’s otherworldly vocal talent. There’s many backing vocals that support her and push this short song into the forefront of your mind. Followed is the jaunty jig that is “Salterello” that is a beautiful instrumental. The drums pound away (with kudos to the huge bass drum) while entwining pipes bring you an infectious riff that doesn’t leave your side when the song is finished. If the album didn’t flow so well as a one listen piece, you’d have this song on repeat. The ambience of “Mephisto” is a short but sweet string piece using many archaic instruments.
“The Song of Sibyl” signals the next section of the album with a haunting piece led by Gerrard and an eerie church organ. The tension can be felt like electrical pulses in this song. “Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book” is the first song with Brendan Perry singing and its a simplistic song on the surface with lots of hidden instrumental depth to it. It’s a bit like a wind up song that builds up and up and then slowly ebbs away and the playing of the stringed instruments is exceptional. “As the Bells Ring the Maypole Spins” follows on as a joyous song. The pipe playing is at the forefront with some excellent vocals from Gerrard as one of her more uplifting songs to date.
“The End of Words” is a calming vocal duet that signals the start of act three as it envelops you with its arms before “Black Sun” pushes you away and screams at you. Possibly my favourite track of the album, Perry’s vocals and the tense impending doom that surrounds the entire track really hit home in what is generally a soothing and quiet album. “Wilderness” quickly returns to a soothing vocal piece as if to reassure you its all ok! “The Promised Womb” is a more abstract piece of string and vocal rollings which has never fully grabbed me. “The Garden of Zephirus” is a bird singing, flute playing ambient section that leads to the final track “Radharc” which comes across almost Asian influenced in a way. This track is a favourite too as its got a good beat and a sense of urgency about it.
“Aion” is very much a mood piece. It’ll take you on a journey and some songs as a standalone aren’t as effective as when they are played as part of the album. However the overall feel is one of being transported away to some other plain and that’s what Dead Can Dance have always done best.