A global affair told masterfully through music
Six years after the release of Anastasis, the British-Australian group Dead Can Dance is back with their ninth studio album Dionysus. The album is split into two acts which are then separated into different songs. The first act is separated into three parts; “Sea Borne,” “Liberator of Minds” and “Dance of the Bacchantes.” The second act is split into four parts; “The Mountain,” “The Invocation,” “The Forest” and “Psychopomp.”
Taking a step back from their more gothic vibe, Dionysus dives deep into the tribal roots of the world and tells the story of Dionysus, the God of wine and fertility. “Sea Borne” starts the first act off with a feeling of ritual as the protagonist of this long story makes his way to a new land. The sound of middle-eastern melodies is followed with the sound of ship sails flapping in the wind. Each environmental noise is slowly flushed out by the sound of building synthesizers and percussion.
The second song in the first act titled “Liberator Of Minds” is light on vocals as the story of Dionysus is continued. The use of earthy sounds and steady beats allow the listener to become one with the storyline and feel immersed. The first act ends with “Dance Of The Bacchantes” which becomes an exotic ride into another world. Dionysus has made it to this foreign land, and fierce instruments guide the listener through. Women’s vocals lay on top of nature’s sounds and instruments from different cultures that seem too obscure to know off hand. What starts as a steady beat quickly becomes a dance anthem.
The second act is greeted with flutes and synths as “The Mountain” gets underway. As the first track in the second act takes the listener through the life of Dionysus, bagpipes guide the listener from start to finish. The spiritual and refreshing track sinks right into “The Invocation” as both parties of Dead Can Dance, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, harmonize into what sounds like a made-up language. The tracks come to an end with the help of rural farm noises bring a calming peace.
“The Forest” and “Psychopomp” both bring the second act to an end. Keyboards, flutes and steady-building bass help lead not only Dionysus but the listener into the last few minutes of the album. The rituals and ceremonies begin to come to a close and the sounds of the foreign worlds begin to fade. The subdued track allows the whole story to be able to come to a halt without forgetting a single detail. The short two-act album brings a global feel, traditional elements and a psychedelic vibe all together in complete harmony.