Dead Can Dance was an Australian alternative band whose work can be classified as "ethno/neo-classical". Their music is a hybrid of world beat, sacred and medieval chamber music and ancient tribal, pagan music, employing the use of tribal drums, period instruments, strings & brass and various singing and chanting styles and mixing with ambient and new age-styled music. Very "old world meets new world". From 1982-98, they were signed to the british eclectic/alternative label 4AD, known for their stable of new wave, goth and "shoegazer" acts like Modern English, Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, The Birthday Party (featuring Nick Cave before he formed The Bad Seeds), Throwing Muses, The Pixies, Wolfgang Press, The The and others. From what I remember seeing somewhere, their name, "the dead can dance" comes from the concept of masks worn by indigenous tribes all over the world that were once made from dead trees but have been given life again by the dancing of those who wear the mask.
Formed in Melbourne, Australia, DCD started as a band concept but after their debut, pared down to it's two principle members, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrad who were also in a romantic relationship but broke up shortly after their second album yet amazingly were able to maintain a working relationship for another twelve years. They would remain the lone two figures of the group, hiring session musicians.
While their first album was very 80s goth and alternative, later albums would evoke images of ancient druids and secret religious rituals, then later on they would experiment with mixing musical elements of old european and Renaissance, african, indian and latin rain forest culture.
Though they were more popular in Europe than the US, they did and still do have a large cult following here and their haunting and visual music was often used in Hollywood movie soundtracks such as The Mist, S. Darko and El Nino De Luna. Lisa Gerrard voice in particular has found great success in film scores after the band's break-up, working on Gladiator, Man on Fire, Ali, The Insider, Tears of the Sun, Heat, Black Hawk Down and others. Her most recognizable song is her version of the traditional irish ballad, "The Wind That Shakes The Barley".
Lisa Gerrard usually sings melody lines, chants or Gaelic lyrics in her performances while Perry sings mainly english in his doomsday Jim Morrison-like voice.
They recorded seven studio albums, one live album and four compilation albums before breaking up.
Though they officially broke up in 1998, they reunited in 2005 for a small tour with a 11 pc group of multi-instrumentalists and orchestra members and have been in talks to record again once Gerrard becomes free from her busy film scoring career.
"In Power We Trust The Love Advocated" from Dead Can Dance (1984)
"The Cardinal Sin" from Spleen And Ideal
"In the Wake of Adversity" from Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (1987)
"Persephone (The Gathering of Flowers)" from Within the Realm of a Dying Sun
"The Host of Seraphim" from The Serpent's Egg (1988)
"Ulysses" from The Serpent's Egg
"Black Sun" from Aion (1990)
"The WInd That Shakes the Barley" from Into The Labyrinth (1993) This is the live version from the documentary Toward the Within which documents the Into The Labyrinth tour. This was also their best selling album.
"American Dreaming" from Into the Labyrinth. One of their few modern western world songs.
"Song of the Dispossessed" from Spiritchaser (1996)
"Song of the Stars" from Spiritchaser
"The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" from Into the Labyrinth. This is taken from their 2005 reunion tour in The Netherlands.