A worldly album that’s pretty suite
Approaching their ninth studio album, Dead Can Dance continue to move around different time periods, cultures and parts of the world to explore different modalities of music. For Dinoysus, we take a look into the Greek God of Wine and the lush arrangements that being at one with your spirit can bring. It’s an album of seven tracks split into two acts – a side A and side B if you will. Unlike “Within The Realm of the Dying Sun” though, this is more thematic than dividing writing abilities. The result is an album that flows beautifully and exotically, but one that is also over too soon.
Act I kicks off with the wave crashing “Sea Borne” that trades of shuffling uptempo beats, lush zithers that twinkle and sparkle alongside choral arrangements that sound like a calmer version of the Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices. This choir actually becomes the main voice throughout the album which initially is quite jarring. Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard’s vocals take a heavy backseat during the album as a whole but if you know that going in, your ears and eyes will be open to the wonderfully exotic instruments and melodies instead. “Liberator of Minds” is like a lost track from Anastasis with its twisting strings that duel with beautiful fiddles to create their own unique sound. Working as an Act, it also allows time for small transitional pieces and the animal flutes to build up the atmosphere for the phenomenal “Dance of the Bacchantes”. The track takes from so many different cultures. You can hear hand percussion, Serbian styled choirs, middle eastern rhythms and embellishments and Brazilian instruments all smashed together into an outback frenzy. It all works seamlessly to create a soul blueprint to dance and feel free to and its what Dead Can Dance do so very, very well.
Act II brings Brendan and Lisa’s vocals to the mix. Opening with “The Mountain” we get their lilting vocal interplay as dulcimers, pipes and huge percussive loops wrap around them. Some of the best moments of Dinoysus is hearing Perry and Gerrard tee each other up in a shamanic call and response and it works to perfection here. “The Invocation” I’m sure brings The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices into the mix with their distinctive Bulgarian sound. The track builds up around them adding layers of strings, percussive loops and rubbery basslines to feel like it’s forward-looking and yet very much rooted in the past. “The Forest” takes this a step further using chopped up parts of the choir and celestial synths to accompany Brendan’s musings in a beautifully rhythmic song that could fit easily onto the Spiritchaser album. The act and album closes with “Psychopomp” that transports us into the tribal jungle with a completely different sounding track. It’s psychedelic – but in an aboriginal way. The animal whistles, tuned logs and softly layered vocals of both Brendan and Lisa feel disembodied like they are spirits calling you into a trance. It has a mildly creepy edge to it but it’s also incredibly zen-like and relaxing despite all the instruments involved.
At 36 minutes, I wish that there were a few more movements in the two acts but what is here is absolutely golden. If I were to mildly complain, it’s that the movements aren’t their own tracks – the album comes as 2 mp3’s or CD tracks which makes placing a section on repeat a little more difficult to do. Dionysus is another stellar album that sees ‘s just as much experimentation and ambition as Dead Can Dance have ever had. A great place to find something truly unique in the world of music.
Recommended track: The Mountain
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