ATLANTIC CURVE 7th May 2021
Dead Can Dance member Lisa Gerrard and their touring band member, Jules Maxwell have joined together for a new album and it won’t surprise you to hear that it’s not a surprise. If you like that ethereal nouveau-hippy Had Rin Full Moon post beach party thing, then you will delight in a bit more. There are plenty of electronics, sequencing beats, adding arpeggios and sweeping along in a fantasy-goth way. Of course, there is Lisa Gerrard’s signature vocal, providing imaginary words with imaginary meanings, allowing a range of sounds a real language would overly constrain. Textures are electronic, dreamy, hints of world music textures, meaning it isn’t a million miles from Dead Can Dance but there is a lot more of Lisa’s voice (that’s a good thing) and a sound that is more electronic than organic (not such a good thing). Still, if you like DCD, you’ll like this. In fact, if you like New Age music, you’ll not have an aversion to synths and you’ll feel at home here.
Jules was brought in to play live keyboards for Dead Can Dance in 2012 but quickly showed skills through helping to create a song. That shouldn’t have been a surprise, since he already composed for the theatre and has recorded solo albums. He went on to create a handful of songs for Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares with Lisa and that led, organically, to a suggestion that the pair work with James Chapman of MAPS to complete the ideas they had for a new album. The result is what we see on this release. It was originally slated for late 2019 but was pushed back a bit and then events took over.
Songs have a pattern, building slowly to an intensive middle, and creating a hypnotic effect before calming back and leaving the listener as it found them. Vocals can get quite operatic in quality, with plenty of the deeper end of a Mezzo’s range and Lisa is in full flow here. Songs were recorded at a distance – in Australia (vocals), France (keys and percussion) and England (production) but, given the restrained nature of the material, it doesn’t seem to have damped things down.
Dead Can Dance continue, with a recent album (recent, in DCD world, means three years ago), and this side-project isn’t a replacement for their sonic palaces, more an elaborate ante-chamber. Nothing will shock or confront existing fans and they will welcome the chance to hear more of that voice. Equally, anyone with tastes leaning to New Age will find plenty to like here.