Beast of Eden
Dead Can Dance Biography
In September 1993, Dead Can Dance - Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard - release their new album Into The Labyrinth. Brendan Perry lives on an island in a river on the border between Eire and Northern Ireland; Lisa Gerrard lives in the Snow River mountains in Australia. As a result, they wrote independently and then, in three months together, prepared and recorded both Into The Labyrinth tracks as well as other material.
Brendan Perry: It's a journey into a year of writing, very much focused on living in the countryside with rural people. There's folk rootedness, in one respect: a love for natural, primitive music of the world, and a love of very natural sounding things: bird song, wood..
Some of the songs on Into The Labyrinth are without words, perhaps some are beyond them. Some are deceptively straight forward, heaving pop ballads, and some are disconcertingly unpinned instrumentals. Some brook no explanation, while some allow a little.
"The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" is Brendan Perry's alter ego ...the abstract relationship of myself and woman..
"The Wind That Shakes The Barley," a late eighteenth-century piece written by Dr. Robert Dwyer-Joyce to commemorate an uprising in Wexford against the British. Lisa Gerrard wanted to do her own version...it was meant to be a rallying song, but it has such an intense sadness that it becomes an anti-war song...
"The Carnival is Over" is a reminiscence of pre-teen Brendan Perry living in East London, visiting the circus.
"Tell Me About The Forest": When you live in Ireland you see the people who have been away for years returning to their parents, and you also see those they leave behind..the breaking down of tradition along with the uprooting and upheaval of tribes. In Ireland, and in the rain forests. If we could only keep the oral traditions going, and leave the clerical bullshit behind..
"How Fortunate The Man With None": Brendan Perry set words from Brecht's Mother Courage, to music from a Temenos production of the play. This is only the second such permission granted by the Brecht estate, the previous one in 1963.
Dead Can Dance will tour the United States during September, October and November with a full complement of accompanying musicians.
...live, we don't play much from our records. We have a system where we introduce nodal structures which allows room for improvisations, according to a melismatic approach. You can achieve some dangerously beautiful musical moments by way of this process...
Into The Labyrinth is Dead Can Dance's sixth album...we make records because we still have a lot of demons to exorcise: we enjoy the therapeutic nature of making music and through that enjoyment we want to express that joy and pass it on to people. It is our greatest source of therapy, and our greatest means of expression...
A Brief History
1980-81 In '80, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, both of Anglo-Irish extraction, meet in Melbourne, Australia. 1982-early 1984 In '82, they move to London and the next year sign to 4AD. In March '84, they release their first album, a collection of the songs they have written over the previous four years. It is simply entitled Dead Can Dance.
The album artwork, a ritual mask from New Guinea, attempted to provide a visual reinterpretation of the meaning of the name Dead Can Dance. The mask, though once a living part of a tree is dead; nevertheless it has, through the artistry of its maker, been imbued with a life force of its own. To understand why we chose the name, think of the transformation of inanimacy to animacy.. Think of the processes concerning life from death and death into live. So many people missed the inherent symbolism, and assumed that we must be "morbid gothic types," a mistake we deplored and deplore...
Late 1984 As well as contributing two songs, "Dreams Made Flesh" and "Wave Become Wings," to the first This Mortal Coil album, It'll End In Tears, Dead Can Dance recorded a 12" EP, Garden Of The Arcane Delights. The themes of the EP's central song, "The Arcane," were illustrated by the Brendan Perry drawing which appeared on the sleeve.
...The naked blindfolded figure, representing primal man deprived of perception, stands, within the confines of a garden (the world) containing a fountain and trees laden with fruit. His right arm stretches out - the grasping for knowledge - towards a fruit bearing tree, its trunk encircled by a snake. In the garden wall - the wall between freedom and confinement - are two gateways: the dualistic notion of choice. It is a Blakean universe in which mankind can only redeem itself, can only rid itself of blindness, through the correct interpretation of signs and events that permeate the fabric of nature's laws.
1985 The second Dead Can Dance album is released and reaches #2 in the British independent charts. It is called Spleen And Ideal.
...The terms 'spleen' and 'ideal' were taken from nineteenth century symbolist ideas. Spleen - the ill natured and malevolent aspects of human nature such as envy, ill temper, spite and intolerance - was seen as inextricably linked to the notion of the ideal. On one hand it tended to rob the ideal of its potentiality to exist; on the other hand it would shape and influence the ideal's very nature. Correspondingly, our songs were about the truth and illusion; conditioning and freedom; doubt and faith; and beneath all these couplings, the quest for perfection. The attainment of the ideal...
1986-87 In '86, Dead Can Dance tour extensively and contribute two songs, "Frontier" and "The Protagonist," to the 4AD compilation and video Lonely Is An Eyesore. They also release their third album, Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun.
...We realized we had been limiting our musical visions, adapting role playing fixed around guitar, bass and drums. And a lot of things we were hearing, these instruments weren't adequate to express them. So we were learning classical theory, particularly baroque structures based on counterpoint, and we decided we were going to work within the form of the classical idiom and use classical instruments, with the aid of samplers, computers and a few books on how to score. To play the parts we could hear...
1988-89 In the latter part of '88, Dead Can Dance write the film score for the Agustin Villarongas film El Nino De La Luna (Moonchild), in which Lisa Gerrard also made her acting debut. Earlier in '88 they release their fourth album, The Serpent's Egg.
....a lot of aerial photographs of the earth, if you look upon it as a giant organism - a macro-cosmos- you can see that the nature of the life force, water, travels in a serpentine way. We had a vision of this serpentine embrace around the egg: the earth. Again we were telescoping into an earlier period of European music. The troubadour trouvere musics going right through to the renaissance. The romantic elements had disappeared.
1990 Dead Can Dance's fifth album reflects their interest in liturgical and secular music from a period spanning the early Renaissance and incorporates reproduction instruments from those periods. It is called Aion.
...the word Aion - alternately spelled Aaon - signifies an age, but also the entire duration of the world or universe. In Platonic philosophy it represents benevolent power existing within eternity...
1991-93 In '91 Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard work with the theatre and festival projects in Eire, Dead Can Dance perform Lisa Gerrard's score for the Temenos production of Sophocles Oedipus Rex and, at the Cavan Lakes and Vales Festival, Dead Can Dance conceptualize and performed the music for the parade and closing ceremony of The Lughnasa. In '93, a mixture of new and previously released Dead Can Dance music appears in the American film Baraka, and they also contribute two songs to the '93 Hector Zazou album Sahara Blue. In October '92, Dead Can Dance collect their finest compositions (and two new songs "Bird" and "Spirit") as their first American domestic release under the title A Passage In Time.
...We chose songs to show a journey, where the pieces interlocked. It's evolutionary, traversing something, as opposed to a time which is fixed and linear. Derived from something and arriving towards something. The music tends to still sparkle and glow, though the events surrounding it are very dim...