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Old 08-23-2009, 08:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
Zarko
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Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (1987)



In 1987, the band released their third studio album, ‘Within the Realm of a Dying Sun’, which followed in similar vein to Spleen and Ideal. The neoclassical influence is still heavily present, but it is mixed and matched with a darker tone, reaching a point of minimalism at times. Sounds are often more distinct and individual in comparison to the large drone-ish walls of sound present in Spleen. This accommodates a largely ethereal sound present in the self titled, but reflected in a different manner. The album is also quite different to previous releases in that the album is cut into two distinct halves; One half belonging to Perry’s performances whilst the other caters to Gerrard’s talents. Each has their own four songs, with minimal interaction between the two. The album cover is from a picture taken in Paris, at the Père-Lachaise cemetery. The grave taken is of former politician Raspail.

Perry is given the first chance to shine and, as mentioned, he dominates the first half of the album. Anywhere out of the World follows the form of the band introducing albums with spectacular songs. Opening with a heavy metallic chime, the sound reverberates through the song, as other orchestral pieces are slowly introduced; once again producing an eerie choir sound similar to De Profundis.

Windfall carries an almost macabre carnival style with the import of fanciful wind based instruments and sounds. The elongated and dull sounds lend themselves well to the overall atmosphere of the album, the instrumental track the only one from the album (Another continuation from Spleen). The plodding and discreet In the Wake of Adversity does nothing particularly special but is still a nice track overall, with some solid vocals from Perry and percussion.

The first three songs seem inauspicious, and purely used as a lead up to one of Perry’s most powerful performances through his career in Xavier. Sublime story telling is ever present, as Perry seems to almost be reading from a poem of epic standards. The subtle touches to Perry’s vocals at various intervals are wonderful in the studio version, and there is not much more I can say than to listen to the song it self.


Xavier (Average quality from 1987 bootleg)

From then onwards, Gerrard takes the reins and in standard fashion, raises the standards of the album sky high. Dawn of the Iconoclasts bombasts the listener with all the marching brass and war drums in their possession before Gerrard displays the vocals, subdued and controlled by her own standards. At only two minutes in length it works well as an introduction to her work as the song builds up in vigour and alarm.

A bit more world music is infused into the goings as Cantara carries a distinct Middle Eastern tone. The slow introduction of sharp string plucks and keyboard lead way to a feverish attack, as the pace is increased and Gerrard’s exceptional vocal work begins, quite unlike anything else she has produced yet early on with sharp and high pitch singing dominating, occasionally accompanied by a male vocalist. As per normal, she is in stunning form.


Cantara (Live performance from one of their DVDs)

Summoning of the Muse continues the form, kicked off with procession music, with Gerrard producing the most dramatic song of the album. Only the ending of the album can bring about the ending to Gerrard’s consistency, as Persephone matches a wonderful balance between the previous two songs, catching some of raw beauty of Cantara and mixing it with the simple elegance of Muse in another impressive and somewhat sad finale to the album.

The album is filled with some amazing pieces of individual glory that must be checked out if you have enjoyed any of their other previous works. However, the album still suffers from a few problems overall. There is a relatively poor balance throughout the album, partially due to the fact that it was divided into the two sides so blatantly. Whilst Perry’s work seems like a developing story, with the eventual climax, Gerrard is able to suckle each and every drop from her time to make everything seem individual and unique, despite being lined up one after the other. I am not sure how much it would have helped to spread things around, but Perry seems a bit same-same until he does something special, unlike Gerrard who is always special. All things considered though, it is an underrated album by the group, with enough great moments to have it right up amongst their best.

Anywhere Out Of The World (5:07)
Windfall (3:30)
In The Wake Of Adversity (4:14)
Xavier (6:16)
Dawn Of The Iconoclast (2:06)
Cantara (5:58)
Summoning Of The Muse (4:55)
Persephone (The Gathering Of Flowers) (6:35)


In a Few Words: An obscure and somewhat forgotten album with enough special moment to earn it a tick, a solid continuation from Spleen and Ideal
Best tracks: Xavier and Cantara
Running time: ~39 minutes
Favourite Lyrics:
“These were the sins of Xavier's past”

Rating - A sycophantic 8.5/10

Last edited by Zarko; 08-31-2009 at 07:30 AM.
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