It was once believed that the dead could dance, telling stories and interweaving a history of humankind through their haunting dances and songs echoing from the netherworld.
It was once believed that the dead could dance, telling stories and interweaving a history of humankind through their haunting dances and songs echoing from the netherworld. This could also be an apt description of the otherworldly soundscapes of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, aka Dead Can Dance. Elusive, subtle, and reluctant "stars," Gerrard and Perry were more like anti-heroes who managed to become U.K. indie 4AD's most successful act over the course of a 17-year, seven-studio-album career. This sprawling, beautifully packaged four-disc 47-song retrospective—one disc is a DVD-Video containing the feature-length concert film Toward the Within that documents the duo's 1994 performance at the Mayfair Theater in Santa Monica, Calif., as well as rarely seen music videos and a complete discography—provides an unfettered view into the musical minds of two aural anthropologists. Sharing musical and vocal responsibilities, Perry and Gerrard created a uniquely melodic sound incorporating a rich musical lineage that blurred the lines between the ancient and the modern, the organic and the electronic. Haunting tribal incantations co-existed with medieval Irish folk songs and neo-classical with American gothic, all representing a diverse range of influences from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa—and all executed with a profound sense of artistic integrity. Chronologically arranged and including track-by-track commentary from the artists, this remastered collection showcases the duo's acute ability to deliver entrancing, eclectic, mystical, and groundbreaking music—music that continues to captivate and influence devotees from the art and music elite straight to clubland's dancefloors. "The Host of Seraphim," "Cantara," "The Carnival Is Over," "Severance," "Black Sun," "Yulunga," "American Dreaming," and "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" are included—as is previously unreleased material (rare demos, BBC recordings from the John Peel Sessions, U.S. radio performances) like "Sloth," "Sambatiki," and the triumphant closing song "The Lotus Eaters" (the duo's final studio recording). Since going their separate ways in 1998, Perry and Gerrard have continued creating music, albeit separately; each have released solo efforts on 4AD, including Perry's Eye of the Hunter and Gerrard's Duality (with Pieter Bourke). As a soundtrack composer, Gerrard's credits include Gladiator (for which she won a Golden Globe) and Ali.—CR