Review: Dead Can Dance Interpret Pagan Fervor on ‘Dionysus’

Six years after their brilliant reunion album, Anastasis, Dead Can Dance return with their headiest work to date: a two-act, LP-length meditation on the Greek god of pleasure. This record skews more toward Brendan Perry’s side of the duo, with Lisa Gerrard contributing only the female responses to his music, but it never feels like a Perry solo record. As with all Dead Can Dance records, it’s like an anthropological encyclopedia without any words: orchestral strings play obtuse melodies that split the difference between traditional Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music, percussion instruments stutter and shake in curious ways and both he and Gerrard tap into the most primal, Dionysian parts of their souls for stirring vocals they sing in languages they seem to have divined. Each movement offers a unique interpretation of pagan fervor, making for something akin to a modern soundtrack to ancient rites.

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