Dead Can Dance - Toward the Within - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Dead Can Dance - Toward the Within

by Jim Harris Rating:10 Release Date:2016-12-02

Dead Can Dance’s Toward the Within (Remastered) was first released in 1994 as a live album and this new vinyl release, while it sounds pretty much identical, might be the place to start in terms of understanding why this eclectic Australian band still retains a following after so many years, and after so many years between albums.

Toward the Within is a brilliantly orchestrated album with a sound that only reveals itself to be a live recording in between each song.  The quality is extraordinary, and Dead Can Dance’s goth, darkwave vision is captured here live and intense and what makes it so extraordinary is there is literally not any band out there with such a unique musical vision.

‘Rakim’ opens with this middle-eastern drum thing as a lead-in to the extraordinary voice of the male lead singer, Brendan Perry. (And he’s not even the best singer in the band…) The song is pretty much his voice and drums and wow, what a voice.

Then what is the next song?  One of the most unique and beautiful voices in the history of alternative music. ‘Persian Love Song’ is straight up just Lisa Gerrard singing naked.  And it’s dark, mystical, and freaky ingenious.  I have no clue what language she’s singing in and don’t care.  She sounds like some baroque operatic forlorn maiden standing on the cliff of some dystopic universe calling out for something. (Don’t know what it is, but something.)

The flutes, cellos, and rich drums consistently add a middle eastern flair to the songs but there is no question that Lisa and Brendan, with their alternating leads, steal the live show.  While Brendan clearly establishes that there may have been some commercial alternative direction this band may have taken if they had so chosen (‘Desert Song’), the very next song, ‘Yulunga’ Lisa comes back with her crazy deep melodic chanting and then riding on a camel through a desert atmosphere and well…

Dead Can Dance you just should experience to fully understand.  They like to do weird shit most of the time and they do it dramatic and well.  But oddly enough, towards the middle of the album with a song like ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’, Lisa Gerrard traditionally executes as well or better than Sinead O’Connor or Kate Bush. They could fill entire albums with this approach.  But they didn’t and we can all appreciate their uniqueness.

This live album is a testament to a timeless band that shouldn’t surprise anyone when 4AD keeps bringing them back from the dead.  Dead Can Dance fill a unique void.  If you struggle with vinyl it would be well worth the investment in the 1994 edition of this album.


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