Dead Can Dance – A Passage In Time
I will be upfront and admit that I am not a big fan of the “gothic” phenomenon. There was one point, earlier in my life, when I wished to emulate it. But now, having the experiences and beliefs that I do now, I (for the most part) find the whole thing overly cliche and somewhat ridiculous for those who are seriously into it. Furthermore, in the area where I live, the rapidly dwindling goth sub-culture is nothing more than a group to ridicule, a sad remnant of the late 80’s and early 90’s: individuality which ironically became mass produced to the general public (“Hot” Topic, etc).
Nevertheless, there are a few aspects of gothic culture that I can still appreciate. One of them is the very talented group Dead Can Dance. You may wish to disagree on this assertion, but Dead Can Dance is one of the few indispensable musical forces I utilize when contemplating gothic thoughts (others being Will and The Legendary Pink Dots to a lesser extent). From the absolutely astonishing and versatile voice of Lisa Gerrard (which, while mellowed with age, lost none of it’s vitality) and the five-dimensional musical arrangements of Brendan Perry, which has been (and still is) some of the best examples of “neo-classical” music available today.
“A Passage In Time”, originally a stop-gap collection in the middle of their existence, is now an excellent retrospective of their ‘mid-era’ albums, featuring songs prominently from “Spleen And Ideal”, “The Serpent’s Egg”, and a few tracks from “Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun” (another excellent album) and “Aion”, as well as containing two new tracks recorded for the collection. While, those who own the original albums may wish different tracks were included (for example, since I also own the “Within The Realm…” album, I wish they could have included the tracks “Xavier” and “Summoning The Muse”), the selection presented is (for the most part) quite excellent and diverse (except for the fact that there are no tracks from the first album and EP, given that they are very different compared to the main canon of Dead Can Dance’s work). Also, the balance between Perry and Gerrard’s contributions is almost evenly matched, but the surprising fact is that Perry’s songs may be even greater than Gerrard’s (definitely arguable, but plausible). For example, “Ullyses” is a great example of a condensation of what makes Dead Can Dance awesome: harpsichord passages, violins, horns (natural and/or synthetic), and soaring vocals (here a story regarding John Francis Dooley, comparing him to the mythic wanderer Ulysses). However, several fan favorites are also included, such as the brooding “The Host Of Seraphim” and the light-hearted “Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book”. Finally, the two additional tracks, while nothing special or remarkable compared to the rest of the material, are still interesting in their own right (mainly because of how different they are compared to the rest, with one featuring prominent bird ambience and the other featuring an electric bass accompaniment).
It has been said before (but it bears repeating) that this compilation is an excellent way for people just discovering Dead Can Dance. But it is also a good collection for those who enjoy the band, but balk at the steep price of the three-disc set (mainly poor people like myself). For those interested in neo-classical, Lisa Gerrard, or Dead Can Dance, you can do no wrong by purchasing this excellent compilation. Totally awesome and well worth every penny. Highly recommended.
PS: Once again, to repeat and clarify, I do not provide links to full-album downloads. There are plenty of other great sites where one can download if they choose to do so.