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If There Were A Heaven It Might Be Here
on 10 July 2009
Dead Can Dance are a very recent musical discovery for me.
Given that they have been making music since 1981 I can
only think that late is sometimes definitely better than never.
Their 1988 album 'The Serpent's Egg' was my first point of contact.
I was instantly bewitched.
Intelligent; other-worldly; challenging and alchemically refined,
this fine band of extraordinarily talented musicians straddled the
eighties and nineties in quiet, uncompromising splendour.
Their devotees are doubtless legion. I was utterly oblivious.
A lot of ground to make up then and I am looking forward to
every step of the journey. Some things really are that important.
'Toward The Within' was recorded live in November 1993
at a performance in The Mayfair Theatre, Santa Monica, California.
The atmosphere and intensity of the event is captured vividly
and affectionately by Mr Charbonneau and Mr Bouis.
Ms Gerrard and Mr Perry both possess remarkable voices;
cultured voices (in more than one sense) which have learned
and absorbed many vocal techniques and styles both in terms
of geography and musical history.
Ms Gerrard owns a rich, sultry, penetrating contralto voice.
This is a woman who really knows how to use both her diaphragm
and larynx to maximum effect.
A voice with the capacity to sooth, to excite, to terrify.
(She also deftly knows her way around a Yang Ch'in !!).
Mr Perry's dark brown, velvety, rock-solid baritone is the
terrestrial anchor to his compatriot's metaphysical intensity.
Alone and together they make the most beautiful noise.
From the hypnotic opening rhythms of 'Rakim' to the simple
lyrical beauty of closing track 'Don't Fade Away' the fifteen
compositions delivered here include some of the most uplifting,
moving and exultant music that it has ever been my privilege to hear.
'Song Of The Sybyl' is a haunting, quasi-medieval, lament which sent
shivers up and down my spine.
'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' and 'I Am Stretched Upon Your Grave'
expose the folk roots which run deep through their hearts and veins.
Alone or in context Ms Gerrard's rapturous performance of
penultimate track 'Sanvean', blissfully framed by Mr Claxton's
warmly enveloping keyboards, is nothing less than sublime.
Simply one of the most beautiful and rewarding albums I have ever heard.
Exquisite and Essential.