Australian duo Dead Can Dance (consisting of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry) were an extraordinarily innovative band signed to the legendary 4AD label (becoming their highest selling artists), fusing medieval music with gothic undertones and ambient textures. The band has disbanded and reformed over the years since it began in 1981 – the most recent being the release of the album ‘Dionysus’ on 2 November 2018. A planned tour was subsequently cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
Current Dead Can Dance members Lisa Gerrard and Jules Maxwell have now teamed up under a new guise with James Chapman (MAPS) to create a studio album, titled ‘Burn’. This was the result of Gerrard meeting Irish theatre composer Jules Maxwell several years ago on the 2012 Dead Can Dance tour before working together on the album. ‘Burn’ is set for release on 7 May 2021 via Atlantic Curve. Typical of today’s world – the artists worked from Australia, France and the UK to collaborate on this project.
The first single off the album ‘Noyalain (Burn)’is a beautiful and evocative track with the trademark vocals over syncopated beats. The vocal style can’t help but recall the work Maxwell did with The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices (Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares) – it’s distinctive and ethereal – and ghosts over an ascending musical arrangement that has the imposing and statuesque presence one expects from Dead Can Dance.
Noyalain (Burn) has crystalline guitars and keys that swell and ease against the rhythm section – as the title suggests – there is a slow-burning fuse that sparks as the song explodes into life with an imperious piano riff and a driving force. This is pulse-racing stuff – cinematic and bold with an ethereal stature and grace.
The accompanying video is a palimpsest of the COVID era – where the touching alone becomes a stunning and beautiful act:
‘Burn’ will be something to look forward to based on this exquisite piece of music. You can preorder the album here.
Feature Photograph: Robbie Perry