Dead Can Dance - Garden Of The Arcane Delights / The John Peel Sessions

by Jim Harris Rating:7 Release Date:2016-11-04

Dead Can Dance, an Australian goth band came onto the scene in the very early 80s and their stuff sounded as dark as Joy Division but with a rich musical ethic, much like those early Xymox albums or any number of those early goth-influenced bands that still holds up every time 4AD chooses to re-issue them. 

This 2 LP set, Garden of the Arcane Delights consists of the EP on one record that was recorded in between their first and second LPs, and may be a bit conceptual for some of their fans. The music is a presage to this band more than quickly moving from an alternative-goth band as their first album was, and into more chamber hall freak show classic stuff that would culminate in their finest LP, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, which many would agree is their finest hour.

But the EP portion of this set has a couple of songs where the male voice is mixed scary and dark and I guess lyrically it’s ambitious.

Regardless of the EP however, the other LP, the John Peel Sessions, the songs are extraordinary and shows just what this band can do with a full complement of guitars, drums, cellos, and the absolutely gorgeous and fascinating chants of the female lead singer, Lisa Gerrard.  When Lisa explodes above the classically-inspired sections of a song, this group is breathtaking.  And these John Peel Sessions are mostly all breathtaking and well-executed.

For whatever reason, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, could not settle for the typical goth-band trajectory for their music with moving into guitar and synth progressions, but instead scoring out the music into more classical directions.  Their fans probably can’t fault them for this and there is a good chance Lisa’s transcendental voice may not have reached its potency on the more conventionall goth canvas. So be it. The John Peel Sessions on this 2-disk set make it well worth investing in.

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