Updated: Dec 25, 2019
Dead Can Dance—a band formed in 1981 in Melbourne (Australia)—continues to this day to produce unique material that combines the voices of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard. They recently released their new album Dionysus and announced a European tour in 2019. As of today, I eagerly await U.S. tour dates. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live in 2013 in Barcelona.
Although I tend to favor female singers, multi-instrumentalist Brendan Perry has undoubtedly one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. He holds a place in my heart along with other male songsters, such as Marc Almond, David Bowie, Billy Corgan, Rob Dickinson, Michael Gira, Prince, and Robert Smith. Personal favorites with lead vocals by Brendan Perry include:
While Brendan Perry sings mostly in English, Lisa Gerrard prefers to use undecipherable lyrics. She indeed shares that with Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser, as well as an otherworldly voice. Lisa Gerrard often plays the yangqin (a Chinese hammered dulcimer) live and in the studio. Personal favorites sung by her include:
It’s worth mentioning that "The Song Of The Sybil" is sung in Catalan. El Cant de la Sibil·la has been performed since medieval times in some churches in Catalan-speaking territories on Christmas Eve. Dead Can Dance were likely introduced to that song while filming and composing the score for Moon Child in the Barcelona area. Released in 1989, this sci-fi movie features Lisa Gerrard in an acting role as well.
Unlike Elizabeth Fraser, whose lyrics comprise straightforward English, abstract mouth music, and foreign words, Lisa Gerrard has her own language or idioglossia—an idiosyncratic language invented and spoken by only one person or very few people. But again, words don’t seem to matter that much when listening to Dead Can Dance. Along with their brand of world music, Dead Can Dance are another rara avis that is worth experiencing.
CHECK: When Words Don't Matter