In September 1993, Dead Can
Dance - Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard - release their new album Into The Labyrinth.
Brendan Perry lives on n island in a river on the border between Eire and Northern
Ireland; Lisa Gerrard lives in the Snow River mountains in Australia. As a result, they
wrote independently and then, in three months together, prepare and recorded both Into
The Labyrinth tracks as well as other material.
Brendan Perry: It's a
journey into a year of writing, very much focussed on living in the countryside with rural
people. There's folk rootedness, in one respect: a love for natural, primitive music of
the world, and a love of very natural sounding things: bird song, wood..
Some of the songs on Into
The Labyrinth are without words, perhaps some are beyond them. Some are deceptively
straight forward, heaving pop ballads, and some are disconcertingly unpinned
instrumentals. Some brook no explanation, while some allow a little.
"The Ubiquitous Mr.
Lovegrove" is Brendan Perry's alter ego
the abstract relationship of myself
"The Wind That Shakes
The Barley," a late eighteenth-century piece written by Dr. Robert Dwyer-Joyce to
commemorate an uprising in Wexford against the British. Lisa Gerrard wanted to do her own
it was meant to be a rallying song, but it has such an intense sadness
that it becomes an anti-war song
"The Carnival is
Over" is a reminiscence of pre-teen Brendan Perry living in East London, visiting the
"Tell Me About The
Forest": When you live in Ireland you see the people who have been away for years
returning to their parents, and you also see those they leave behind
down of tradition along with the uprooting and upheaval of tribes. In Ireland, and in the
rain forests. If we could only keep the oral traditions going, and leave the clerical bull
"How Fortunate The Man
With None": Brendan Perry set words from Brecht's Mother Courage, to music
from a Temenos production of the play. This is only the second such permission granted by
the Brecht estate, the previous one in 1963.
Dead Can Dance will tour
the United States during September, October and November with a full complement of
live, we don't
play much from our records. We have a system where we introduce nodal structures which
allows room for improvisations, according to a melismatic approach. You can achieve some
dangerously beautiful musical moments by way of this process
Into The Labyrinth
is Dead Can Dance's sixth album
we make records because we still have a lot of
demons to exorcise: we enjoy the therapeutic nature of making music and through that
enjoyment we want to express that joy and pass it on to people. It is our greatest source
of therapy, and our greatest means of expression
A Brief History
1980-81 In '80, Brendan
Perry and Lisa Gerrard, both of Anglo-Irish extraction, meet in Melbourne, Australia
1982-early 1984 In '82,
they move to London and the next year sign to 4AD. In March '84, they release their first
album, a collection of the songs they have written over the previous four years. It is
simply entitled Dead Can Dance.
The album artwork, a
ritual mask from New Guinea, attempted to provide a visual reintrepretation of the meaning
of the name Dead Can Dance. The mask, though once a living part of a tree is dead;
nevertheless it has, through the artistry of its maker, been imbued with a life force of
its own. To understand why we chose the name, think of the transformation of inanimacy to
animacy..Think of the processes concerning life from death and death into live. So many
people missed the inherent symbolism, and assumed that we must be "morbid gothic
types," a mistake we deplored and deplore
Late 1984 As well as
contributing two songs, "Dreams Made Flesh" and "Waves Become Wings,"
to the first This Mortal Coil album, It'll End In Tears, Dead Can Dance
recorded a 12" EP, Garden Of The Arcane Delights. The themes of the
EP's central song, "The Arcane," were illustrated by the Brendan Perry drawing
which appeared on the sleeve.
blindfolded figure, representing primal man deprived of perception, stands, within the
confines of a garden (the world) containing a fountain and trees laden with fruit. His
right arm stretches out - the grasping for knowledge - towards a fruit bearing tree, its
trunk encircled by a snake. In the garden wall - the wall between freedom and confinement
- are two gateways: the dualistic notion of choice. It is a Blakean universe in which
mankind can only redeem itself, can only rid itself of blindness, through the correct
interpretation of signs and events that permeate the fabric of nature's laws.
1985 The second Dead Can
Dance album is released and reaches #2 in the British independent charts. It is called Spleen
The terms 'spleen'
and 'ideal' were taken from nineteenth century symbolist ideas. Spleen - the ill natured
and malevolent aspects of human nature such as envy, ill temper, spite and intolerance -
was seen as inextricably linked to the notion of the ideal. On one hand it tended to rob
the ideal of its potentiality to exist; on the other hand it would shape and influence the
ideal's very nature. Correspondingly, our songs were about the truth and illusion;
conditioning and freedom; doubt and faith; and beneath all these couplings, the quest for
perfection. The attainment of the ideal
1986-87 In '86, Dead Can
Dance tour extensively and contribute two songs, "Frontier" and "The
Protagonist," to the 4AD compilation and video Lonely Is An Eyesore.
They also release their third album, Within The Realm Of a Dying Sun.
We realized we had
been limiting our musical visions, adapting role playing fixed around guitar, bass and
drums. And a lot of things we were hearing, these instruments weren't adequate to express
them. So we were learning classical theory, particularly baroque structures based on
counterpoint, and we decided we were going to work within the form of the classical idiom
and use classical instruments, with the aid of samplers, computers and a few books on how
to score. To play the parts we could hear
1988-89 In the latter part
of '88, Dead Can Dance write the film score for the Agustin Villarongas film El Nino De
La Luna (Moonchild), in which Lisa Gerrard also made her acting debut. Earlier in '88
they release their fourth album, The Serpent's Egg.
a lot of aerial
photographs of the earth, if you look upon it as a giant organism - a macro-cosmos- you
can see that the nature of the life force, water, travels in a serpentine way. We had a
vision of this serpentine embrace around the egg: the earth. Again we were telescoping
into an earlier period of European music. The troubadour trouvere musics going right
through the renaissance. The romantic elements had disappeared.
1990 Dead Can Dance's fifth
album reflects their interest in liturgical and secular music from a period spanning the
early Renaissance and incorporates reproduction instruments from those periods. It is
the word Aion -
alternately spelled Aaon - signifies an age, but also the entire duration of the world or
universe. In platonic philosophy it represents benevolent power existing within
1991-93 In '91 Brendan
Perry and Lisa Gerrard work with the theatre and festival projects in Eire, Dead Can Dance
perform Lisa Gerrard's score for the Temenos production of Sophocles Oedipus Rex
and, at the Cavan Lakes and Vales Festival, Dead Can Dance conceptualize and performed the
music for the parade and closing ceremony of The Lughnasa. In '93, a mixture of new and
previously released Dead Can Dance music appears in the American film Baraka, and
they also contribute two songs to the '93 Hector Zazou album Sahara Blue. In
October '92, Dead Can Dance collect their finest compositions (and two new songs
"Bird" and "Spirit") as their first American domestic release under
the title A Passage In Time.
We chose songs to
show a journey, where the pieces interlocked. It's evolutionary, traversing something, as
opposed to a time which is fixed and linear. Derived from something and arriving towards
something. The music tends to still sparkle and glow, though the events surrounding it are