If not a scheme to earn a quick buck or the desire to reignite a relationship that supposedly ended in the ’90s, to what do we owe the sudden resurrection of ’80s art-goth duo Dead Can Dance? “The curse of being afflicted with an artistic soul,” said Lisa Gerrard in a recent interview, precipitating a wave of understanding nods as to why she and her musical partner, Brendan Perry, have once again chosen to grace our mortal ears with their otherworldly compositions.
After a hasty listen to both Anastasis, the duo’s first studio album in 16 years, and its ancestors, some might pigeonhole the Aussie dyad’s exotic refrain as music consumed only by tortured souls brooding over black coffee. Listen more carefully, and you’ll find that its sound is unbounded by time or genre. How can one categorize Gerrard’s eerie warbles, which have ripened with age; Perry’s elegant vocals, ornamented with nonsense syllables; or the duo’s ritualistic tribal drums and mournful instrumentals?
Tormented by creative spirits, the fiftysomething artists may have had their heyday three decades ago. But with Anastasis, Dead Can Dance proves it’s not lost its aptitude for hauntingly beautiful compositions. Gerrard’s signature glossolalia is laced with dainty string plucking on “Anabasis”; Perry weaves his vocals through Gerrard’s on “Return of the She-King” as though no hiatus had existed. Ancient and modern, morose yet uplifting, Anastasis affirms that Dead Can Dance has not weathered with age.—Maya Friedman