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Old 10-24-2009, 10:22 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Spiritchaser (1996)


In the mid-90’s with relationships strained and creative differences at a maximum, Spiritchaser was to become the final Dead Can Dance studio album. During 1994 Gerrard had begun to work on her own solo project (The Mirror Pool, released 1995), perhaps signalling that the end was near, as both continued to work in isolation. The duo had continued with the strong tribal element, however in the same vein the overall ‘spiritual’ nature of the album has been increased tenfold. Rather than short, veracious tribal themed songs, the album is filled with elongated, harmonious tracks that average well over 5 minutes per track. There are also a few collaborative artists that continue from the Toward The Within live album release, such as Peter Ulrich. With the album there carries a sense of sadness, both in the general atmosphere created by the tracks, but also through knowing that something great is at its end.

An abnormal fluctuating noise wave introduces the album, leading way to the standard Dead Can Dance opening track, this time in Nierika. A marathon of percussion instrumentation works with the Gerrard-lead, Perry-assisted vocals. The dynamics between the vocalists, who normally work in their own dimension, is fantastic. This strong opening is followed by one of the albums highlights in Song of the Stars. The longest song Dead Can Dance has produced, at over ten minutes, it certainly delivers. The song begins with relative quietness, only a shaker making the occasional song before the fluctuating noise present at the start of the album opens up the proceedings, Perry’s vocals beginning in a lax-preacher fashion. An assortment of odd sounds, both from instruments and animal calls are present throughout, before Perry on guitar fleshes the track out a bit. The use of guitar as a central focus adds a rock element that has not been prevalent since the self titled release. This makes the album come full circle in a way, connecting with the self titled, but it doesn’t hinder the music whatsoever, in fact it adds to it. It is definitely an album favourite.


Nierika

Indus, a song in which the pair was forced by 4AD to give partial song writing credit to George Harrison due to its similarities with the song ‘Within You Without You’, is another epic, stretching to over nine minutes in length. A slow plodding track with Gerrard at lead vocals, the song slowly builds up in levels, seeming as if it will soon take off before it settles back into a lull. The guitars are added with touch and class, and they simply work. Song of the Dispossessed opens with a slow picking guitar line with Perry singing a downtrodden folk style. The track is built well, but it doesn’t really lead anywhere, and although it is nice, it would have been much better.


Indus

Dedicace Outo is a ridiculously short song compared to the others in the album. At only over one minute in length, the song fades straight into a full performance with no lead up, filled with shakers, various drumming and other suck percussion. As quickly as it fades in, it fades out again. The Snake and the Moon follows, opening with the waves of noise and clapping before a guitar twang signals in the group. Deep reverberating drums and Perry’s exploring and strong vocals are the gut of the song, with guitar lines being the key bridge between Perry and Gerrard vocal performances. The song is full of energy in comparison to the previous tracks, the guitar work sublime and in full force.

With the pace turned down once again, Song of the Nile is another well constructed track; the vibrant vocal combination is best represented in this track. There has always been a delicate give-and-take element to their work, where neither would attempt to outdo each other, and when the balance was compromised it resulted in a poorer album (Within the Realms…). Here though, in probably the first album where the two have united so often in the same tracks, the balance is perfect. In the finale to the album, Devorzhum also signals the ending of Dead Can Dance. Brimming with hope, it carries a sense of sadness for dedicated fans. It is fair to say; it is a fitting song, and certainly an ideal ending.


Devorzhum

Not everyone will enjoy Spiritchaser in comparison to Dead Can Dance’s other work. The passionate veracity and intensity is replaced in a sense with pleasant, long and spiritual songs. Whilst not delivering a killer blow at any one time, the album must be experienced in its entirety from speakers rather than headphones on a quiet eve in isolation. It most definitely has its moments, and although it is sad to see the end of DCD, it is a worthy finale to their name.

Nierika (5:45)
Song Of The Stars (10:13)
Indus (9:23)
Song Of The Dispossessed (4:55)
Dedicacé Outò (1:14)
The Snake And The Moon (6:11)
Song Of The Nile (8:00)
Devorzhum (6:15)


In a Few Words: A worthy finale
Best tracks: Song of the Stars, The Snake and the Moon and Devorzhum
Running time: ~52 minutes

Rating – An underrated 8.5/10
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Old 10-24-2009, 11:38 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Whilst Spiritchaser would be the finale of Dead Can Dance’s studio albums, there is still much to explore. As I mentioned in the opening post, most of their live albums have tracks that are unheard on studio albums, or have tracks that were later put on studio albums (Severance would be a good example of this). I will introduce you to some of these later on, as well as the solo work by the pair.

Firstly though, ranking the albums...

7th – Dead Can Dance (An interesting album none-the-less)
6th – Aion
5th – Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun
4th – Spiritchaser (Most underrated)
3rd – Into The Labyrinth
2nd – Spleen and Ideal

1st – The Serpent’s Egg

And a taster compilation, featuring three tracks from each album (Split into 2 downloads).

Dead Can Dance


Part 1
The Fatal Impact (Dead Can Dance)
Ocean (Dead Can Dance)
Threshold (Dead Can Dance)
De Profundis (Out Of The Depths Of Sorrow) (Spleen and Ideal)
Enigma Of The Absolute (Spleen and Ideal)
Avatar (Spleen and Ideal)
Xavier (Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun)
Summoning Of The Muse (Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun)
Persephone (Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun)
The Host Of Seraphim (The Serpent’s Egg)
In The Kingdom Of The Blind (The Serpent’s Egg)
Ullyses (The Serpent’s Egg)

Part 2
Saltarello (Aion)
Black Sun (Aion)
Radharc (Aion)
The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove (Into The Labyrinth)
The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Into The Labyrinth)
How Fortunate The Man With None (Into The Labyrinth)
Song Of The Stars (Spiritchaser)
The Snake And The Moon (Spiritchaser)
Devorzhum (Spiritchaser)

Enjoy!
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Old 10-25-2009, 06:36 AM   #33 (permalink)
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A wonderful review of Spiritchaser. Better than any that I have ever read by professional music journalists. Congrats mate.
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Old 10-25-2009, 07:28 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Top review, I agree. Spiritchaser's not quite a favourite of mine, but that's probably as I've only given the one chance, and the fact that you've got 7 songs at around or over 5 minutes can make it seem a bit challenging to some. Definitely one I'll give another chance soon though. Worth having for Indus and Song Of the Nile alone if you ask me.

Welcome to the Editor's Pick as well. Thoroughly deserved.
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Old 10-25-2009, 07:56 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
Top review, I agree. Spiritchaser's not quite a favourite of mine, but that's probably as I've only given the one chance, and the fact that you've got 7 songs at around or over 5 minutes can make it seem a bit challenging to some. Definitely one I'll give another chance soon though. Worth having for Indus and Song Of the Nile if you ask me.

Welcome to the Editor's Pick as well. Thoroughly deserved.
Yeah, I think that would be the biggest barrier - The fact that it requires 'commitment' in a sense in comparison to the rest of their discography. Especially the opening 3 and the final 3 songs. Needless to say, still worth a go around, but its probably better if listneed in one sitting.
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:00 AM   #36 (permalink)
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A wonderful review of Spiritchaser. Better than any that I have ever read by professional music journalists. Congrats mate.
Thanks a lot mate.
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:31 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Spectacular band, spectacular review.
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:50 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Europe 1987


The first bootleg of the group, released 1987, roughly around the same time, if not a bit after, Within The Realm of a Dying Sun. The songs were recorded on an early DCD tour, with little effort. As a precursor, don’t worry, I don’t plan to make these reviews as hearty as the actual studio album reviews. A few of you may notice that I used the Europe 1987 bootlegs as my Youtube songs, given that the actual studio versions themselves were disallowed by Youtube. I will be doing bootleg/live album reviews a little differently as well for what it’s worth.

Quality – This is the first question you really have to ask when it comes to bootlegs. So how does it stand up when it comes to Europe 1987? Let’s just say there is a lot to be desired. There is a constant fuzz that whilst isn’t actually noticeable as a sound, noticeably veils the actual bands performance itself. The sound quality is dull and uninspiring, meaning that a lot of the ‘magic’ that is present on studio albums or live performances themselves have been destroyed. Then again, what do you expect from a band that was at that time quite niche, with little following and the band themselves attempting the recording with little help from 4AD. The sound quality variation is obvious, but it doesn’t really kill the bootleg for me. It is no where near their later bootlegs, but for an early attempt, it isn’t too bad. 4/10

Example – Xavier

Studio version


Europe 1987

Songs – 1987 focuses heavily, for obvious reasons, on Within The Realm of a Dying Sun (Being the album they were advertising). It contains most of Dying Sun, with a healthy sprinkling of Spleen and Ideal, such as Circumradiant Dawn, Avatar, Indoctrination and Enigma of the Absolute. They completely forego their debut album songs; though I guess this is understandable given their variation form their then-current material. Nicely, they add ‘In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated’ and ‘The Arcane’, from their EP Garden of the Arcane Delights. 8/10 for the song selection. As I mentioned in the opening post, the band introduced a lot of unheard material in their live concerts. So what do we have here?

At First, And Then… - Introduced with some slow and undisruptive flute work, menacing drumming enters the fray, but the song never loses it’s measured and deathly trudge, before exploding roughly half way through the song to a galloping frenzy. The song is entirely instrumental, and it’s pretty interesting, especially when heard for the first time. It would have been nice for this song to have been studio-ised in a loud, abrasive manner such as Black Sun from Aion, though it holds its personal mystique by being here all on its lonesome.

Severance/The Host of Seraphim – Early variations of the two songs that would later be released on The Serpents Egg. Severance reaches only 2 and a half minutes, whilst the Host had similarly not been entirely fleshed out, barely reaching 4 minutes in length. Both, unfortunately, lose their power through the inferior production, but both are worth listening to, if only for comparison to their future counterparts.

The Children’s Toys – A Gerrard/Perry duo performance, with the supporting percussion suggesting the title of the song has been aptly attributed. The song builds up eventually into a seemingly playful and slow tune, that manages to sound quite menacing.

Swans – A nice and short Gerrard performance that she would alter adopt in her solo career (Appearing on The Mirror Pool)

Performance – Given the production levels, you can’t really complain that the vocal work is inferior to the studio albums. That is almost a certainty, and probably unfair to compare them on an equal billing. The duo do well with what they have, though the occasional stuff up is present. Personally, I much prefer the songs from their EP on this bootleg than the EP itself, which is released with their debut album nowadays. Everything is also much shorter perhaps most obvious with Avatar, which seems much much faster than her counterpart, despite being similar lengths in time. This is due to the sounds not really being fleshed out, and instead the sudden and abrupt tones make it seem faster. 6/10


Avatar

Now, chances are if you find this album online, it will be well and truly stuffed up, specifically order wise.Unfortunately, Ocean is not present on the album (The track list is lying to you ) and tracks 10 and 12 are misspelt. I think I had to re-label everything to get it in the right order.


In A Few Words: An interesting bootleg but mainly for purists.
Rating - 4/10
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:05 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book introduces Perry vocal-wise to the album, and he happily agrees the invitation. Beginning with minimal acoustic plucking of a guitar with a mysterious haze throughout, John Bonnar joins in on keyboard, with a whole manner of percussion building depth. The lyrics are almost read, story-like, outside of the chorus, when Perry repeats, “When you expect whistles it's flutes,
When you expect flutes it's whistles”. The song screams simplicity is often the better form of elegance.
It's based on a poem by Quevedo (1580-1645) one of the most notable Spanish-language writers of all time. And by the way, with a deep social criticism:

"Because in a village a poor lad has stolen one egg
he swings in the sun
while another gets away with a thousand crimes"

I think that's why there are some reminiscences of Baroque music in that song.
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Old 02-27-2010, 09:13 AM   #40 (permalink)
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¡Oh, sorry! It's Góngora, not Quevedo. I've mistaken the writer for his worst enemy (they both loathed each other). That's unforgivable.

Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book Lyrics by Dead Can Dance

Both Baroque, anyway.
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