Monday, November 14, 2011

Summoning My Muse

When it comes to the enigmatic duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, there is no fucking around. They know how to cut straight to my emotional chords, even if those emotions aren't consistently what I'm hoping for. Since familiarizing myself with 'The Serpent's Egg' a few years ago, I've been in awe of Dead Can Dance and the monumental and otherworldly atmosphere their music holds. That which impressed me most on said album were works such as "The Host of Seraphim", "Severance", "In the Kingdom of the Blind, the One-Eyed are King", and most especially the masterstroke of "Ullyses". The latter enters into that personal realm where what I'm hearing causes me to transcend all around me, my music listening soul escapes into the cosmos, and dances and twirls with all of the other perfections floating around up there in the great beyond we call space. Yes, I really do love that song. Not to mention the unmatched resonance and power of the vocals which come from both Brendan and Lisa. They are truly in a class of their own.

But then, there are also times on 'The Serepent's Egg' that don't rub me the right way, or at least don't feel as effective. I speak of the world influences that creep into Dead Can Dance. Over time I have come to enjoy their context within the frame of the overall album, but I prefer the duo when they're in full on neo-classical darkwave mode. My love for bands like Dargaard and Die Verbannten Kinder Evas, who owe their existence to Dead Can Dance, are what caused me to delve into the progenitor of this unpopularized genre. And so, it is with this mindset that I jumped into another of their works, hoping that I might receive what I had hoped to hear slathered over the entire 'The Serpent's Egg'.

Enter 'Within the Realm of a Dying Sun', to which I'm becoming increasingly enamored with. From the first moments I laid my eyes on the artwork seen above, I knew that I wanted to love this album, cradle it in my arms, and set it on an even higher pedestal than 'The Serpent's Egg'. The good news is I didn't even have to try. It does all the work by itself. I find 'Within the Realm of a Dying Sun' to be much more consistent with its mood and, as I desired, darker. Much darker. How dark? The user Rivermyst on rateyourmusic sums it up better than I think anyone can hope to replicate:

"This is like sitting in the courtyard of a cathedral in Medieval England while the monks carry body bags filled with plague victims into a morgue to be burned.

And it's raining."

I've never quoted others while reviewing music, but what an immaculate description. That medieval vibe is precisely the kind of trait that I hope to get from this style of music. Dargaard have it as well, although not quite the same, and maybe not as majestic. The last two songs, "Persephone(The Gathering of Flowers)" and "Summoning of the Muse", fill in the stark yet accurate painting that Rivermyst conjurs for us. In fact, the artwork of the album cover reflects a bit of that image as well, with the hooded statue hanging on to the building, as if holding onto the last bit of hope he/she has left while watching the procession of death walk past them. Of course, there are other ways I see the figure as well, but in relation to the quote it fits fairly well in my opinion.

But, I fear I may have rambled too long...or maybe not enough? Either way, it's likely due to the fact that I struggle for words when hearing such beautiful sounds emitting from my speakers. Dead Can Dance, from what I can gather in the two aforementioned albums, have succeeded in creating music that is everlasting, ethereal, and a blueprint for all great music to come who dare emulate their style. And to think, I'm only three works deep into their discography.

Oh, and I know I just said 'three', despite only mentioning two. I gave 'Into the Labyrinth' a did not please me. Therefore, 'Within the Realm of the Dying Sun' and ' The Serpent's Egg' alone are worth my breath here.

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