"If you know DCD, you know how wonderfully literate and just spectacular their lyrics can be. This album is no different. It has "Black Sun" which I was blessed enough to see live in 06, and "Radharc", both stand the test of time. This is not a good "My first DCD" cd only because the music is very genre specific, and if you have never heard their stuff before you may get lost in the tangles of myth and legend. I'm sure some will disagree, but I don't find this album to be a good `get to know me' album - I suggest starting with DCD, "Into the Labyrinth" a sort of Best Of, without the corny-ness of being a Greatest Hits. It gives a wide breadth of styles and lets you hear all of the creamy goodness the band has offered up in the years gone by. Id say this album has a definate "Arabian flair" and not everyone is open to that. I however am a huge fan of World Music, and this is right up my crooked dimly lit alley. BTW, when you see H. Bosch on the front cover of an album, you know its going to be good!"
Dead Can Dance does medieval
Eric Kelly | San Rafael, CA USA | 04/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The cover of Aion (a detail from Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights) provides a strong clue to the stylistic theme of this disc, Dead Can Dance's fifth album. With the exception of one track, the songs on this album are modern interpretations (often quite faithful) of medieval vocal and instrumental music. And therein lies the rub - if you dislike medieval or period music, you are likely to find the album slow and dull, whereas if you do like it, this may quickly become one of your favorite discs.
My own tastes fall somewhere in between the two extremes, with the result that I find my favorite tracks on the album are those where Dead Can Dance's Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard provide some interesting modern spin on the period sound. The brief opening track, The Arrival and the Reunion, offers a thrilling take on medieval choral singing, quickly followed by a reworking of a lively dance tune, Saltarello, which is performed on period instruments but features an added modern punch in the production that pushes it into the realm of greatness. The marvelous centerpiece to the album are Brendan's Fortune Presents Gifts and Lisa's As The Bell Rings. The former features a crystalline production of a traditional Spanish poem on the vagaries of fortune, delivered in Brendan's rich baritone over an atmospheric backdrop of lute and drone, while the latter combines a modern drum machine with period bagpipe and Lisa's marvelous singing.
A couple of the album tracks, Mephisto and The Garden of Zephyrus, are brief musical sketches which come and go without registering much of an impression. Of the more traditional medieval tracks, The Song of Sybil is stately and lovely, while The End of Words, Wilderness and The Promised Womb require a deeper love of traditional medieval music than I possess. The album closer, Radharc, punches up the tempo and explores some of the middle eastern influences in medieval music; it might not sound out of place blaring from a radio in Cairo.
The one oddball track on this album is Brendan's Black Sun. Though it is one of his best songs, it bears little resemblance stylistically to the rest of the album; its horns, plucked strings, and goth lyrics place it more in the genre of their previous albums, particularly Within The Realm of A Dying Sun. It doesn't exactly clash with the rest of the album, but it also doesn't fit very well either."
Vanes | Stratosphere | 08/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Fortune Presents Gifts NOt AccorDing To The Book"..Ahh! This is the stuff Maynard..(Farina Chow Commercial of the 1950's..)That song taught me to hold on.."SOmetimes when you seek wisdom it's fruits,sometimes when you seek fruits it's wisdom.." or something like that: Beautiful melodies..Reminds me of when I was in Japan and Daniel Barenboim of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra ignored me..Delightful music that's there for you when no persOn or thing is.."The Song of thE Sibyl" is a beautiful song: The live veRsion off "Toward The Within" (their best cd with "Within The Realm of a Dying Sun" perhaps..)is going to be played at my funeral.Simply cannot state how wonderful this is..Lisa Gerrard's "Mirror Pool"'s the next thing you can buy that's like this.."
Textbook excellent release, perhaps too textbook.
IRate | 10/10/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
Another quality release as the band coasted through their medieval stride produced an excellent starting point for the curious, offering the many different undervalued styles this singer and guitarist sought out to a polished tee. In this impressive sampler overview of the dark renaissance revivalists, parts seem to outweigh the whole. Individual tracks never feel shoddy or tacked on, but as a whole, Dead Can Dance provide a few too many profound filler tracks that do little to propel the album. As usual, the mark of talent and originality highlight nearly everything, even if that distinct mark was starting to become a little transparent and predictable."
A last gasp before mediocrity
mianfei | 08/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On Spleen and Ideal and the magnificent Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry created music that, though it clearly had echoes in many masterpieces from the 1970s, was completely unlike anything before it and especially unlike most of what was coming out of the underground in the 1980s. Whereas many people seemed to think that the way to make music dark is to make is loud, fast, and angry in a way that is violent and macho whether it intends to be or not, Dead Can Dance showed that the way to make music really dark was to create atmospheres with genuine depths. On the two abums mentioned above they did this by means of beats that were slow but made more intense by the fact, combined with horns and beats like Parliament slowed down to 7 revs per minute.
"Aion" is a departure, but by no means one that would improve the music of Dead Can Dance. Reflecting Brendan Perry's interest in the music of the Early Renaissance, most of the songs here utilise extensive medieval instrumentation, with several being arrangements of medieval tunes. Unfortunately, this focus caused the loss of the passionate, slow, dark orchestration that made songs like "Xavier" so mind-altering. The first four songs of "Aion" at times sound even upbeat. Even when Gerrard's beautiful voice adds mesmerising touches to the opener "The Arrival and the Reunion", the deep emotion is absent. "Saltarello" could be where the classification of DCD as "new age" begins. It almost seems as if without Perry's big voice the music loses a lot of its passion even if the players have not changed much.
Only when we come to "Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book" and "As the Bell Rings the Maypole Spins" does "Aion" really move away from this lighter tone with some classic voices from Perry and the Gerrard. "Fortune", especially, is a stunner with its unique guitar that seemingly comes out of the Middle Ages, whilst to deny Lisa for what she does on "As the Bell Rings the Maypole Spins" is simply impossible even if the production does not perhaps make the vocal power felt as much as it could. "Black Sun", however, which blends their old sound with new rhythms that are even less "rock" than before, is so stunning that whatever the faults of other parts of "Aion", it is still worth owning. Perry's guttural voice and despairing lyrics match the medieval rhythms like nothing else in the world, and lyrics like "all sense of freedom gone" are just perfect.
"The End of Words" and "Wilderness" reall suffer from being too slight, but on closer "Radharc" they do recapture much of the passion of old in a manner that, alas, would soon be completely gone from Dead Can Dance's music. The string-driven beauty of the lesser-known "The Promised Womb" is arguably Lisa's best piece on "Aion" and shows that the band could still shine as brightly as before even in a new style. The strings here really are sparse but DCD get much more out of a few notes than they do from many on "End of Words" or "Song of the Sibyl". As a fan of Messiaen, the birdsong of "The Garden of Zephirus" is familiar but it is effective and has genuine beauty.
All in all, "Aion" has some truly flawless moments but on the other side it did show the direction DCD were to take on their disappointing final three albums where they sounded like generic new age or world music. Overall, however, with "Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book", "As the Bell Rings the Maypole Spins", "Black Sun" and "The Promised Womb" you cannot go wrong. The last good DCD album."