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Reviewed by - Matt Rowe

Various Artists
The Lotus Eaters - A Dead Can Dance Tribute

Tribute albums are very tough to bring about successfully.  You don’t have to wear the same clothes as the band that you’re honouring but you do have to tag into the heart of their accomplishments.  Without that connection, the covering band is nothing but noise, and sometimes bad noise at that.  This particular tribute’s mission becomes an especially daunting one considering the impact of Dead Can Dance.  And if you happen to be one of the three people who haven’t come into contact with one or the other component of DCD, then you are a rare one, indeed.

I realize that that pronouncement is quite a bold one given that many of you may not even know who Dead Can Dance is, much less wonder about the meaning of such a name.  However, if you have seen Gladiator, you’ve heard Lisa Gerrard’s ethereally angelic voice weave in and out of the soundtrack.  So prevalent is her vocal talent in that film that it is heard in most key parts including the afterlife scenes.  Gerrard also features prominently in the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of the same film.  You’ve also heard her in films like King Arthur, Man on Fire, Black Hawk Down, ‘ Salem ’s Lot (’04 TV), and whole lots more.

Brendan Perry, the other half of Dead Can Dance has been a lot quieter in regards to his professional talents although his musical skills would work wonders in films.  Collectively, the unit known as Dead Can Dance, DCD for short, although no longer together, have produced a mesmerizing body of work encapsulated over 9 incredibly enduring albums.  DCD’s original compositions are first rate and their interpretations of traditional music is dead on, pardon the pun.  DCD’s rendition of a traditional 11th century Italian piece called Saltarello and found on their Aion release, is nothing short of extraordinary with its multi-textured layering.  In short, once you’ve experienced DCD, you have been initiated into music that is, at once, exotic and intoxicating, beautiful and frightening.

Tribute to Dead Can Dance: The Lotus Eaters is a 2CD collection of DCD songs as interpreted by many of the gothic genre’s best including many who are related in sound and texture to Dead Can Dance.  First things first, there will never be another band as complex as DCD.  With that complexity comes a challenge that is seemingly insurmountable.  The artists that contribute their interpretations to this project are deeply respectful of the challenge and come to it willingly.

Disc One contains 13 songs that, like disc two, span the entire catalog of DCD.  There is the funereal “In the Wake of Adversity” by Arcana, the well-developed “Spirit” as realized by Persephone, a band that effectively employs the use of strings (violin, viola, cello, sitar, doublebass) as well as percussion to realize their contribution, a haunting “Bylar” by Ataraxia, a skillfull introduction of familiar vocals in the brilliant “Cantara” by Danny Lilker w/ Lisa Schreib, and the dependable talents of Faith and the Muse, who execute a stunning “Mermerism”.

Disc Two begins with a beautifully interpreted “Fortune present gifts not according to the book” by Black Tape for a Blue Girl.  With a picture-perfect vocal rendition by Athan Maroulis and minimalistic-styled keyboards, this version is one of the standouts on this set.  Songs other than the one mentioned above for disc two have a tendency to be harder edged but retaining the textured layers that are hallmark to DCD. The disc is completed with a wide range of styles that effectively etch initials on the heart of DCD.  The Lotus Eaters is ethereal, demanding, and wholly satisfying.

The packaging is very respectful of the legacy of DCD.  The discs are housed in a sturdy tri-fold digipak.  The artwork is decidedly DCD in nature mimicking the style of Dead Can Dance’s Aion and its album art motif.  Included is a detailed, glossy 28-page booklet that contains lots of photos and discographies of the bands as well as band and recording particulars.

I have to admit here to being quite entranced by the project in its entirety.  But there are good reasons for this.  The Gothic genre and the many bands that are comprised of this tag are the best suited to tackle such as this.  In this genre are highly talented bands complete with even more highly trained individuals.  Their skills are heard in a multitude of classical instruments including some that are obscure.  This is the legacy of DCD and is well represented by those within the genre they occupy.  It is that skill level that nurtures the translations of these great songs.  However, there are some songs performed by hardcore bands that will dish out a fraction of reservation, especially for purists.  But since tribute albums provide a platform that step outside those boundaries, it will require some getting used to.  This doesn’t discount the power of the tune as realized by the band playing it. This tribute album is quite a tidal wave of talent.

This album will not appeal to the masses but to the discretionary tastes that enjoy music outside the boundaries.  It was outside the boundaries where Dead Can Dance created their enduring works.  It’s only fitting that those who also play outside those same boundaries pay this tribute.

DCD’s spirit resides on The Lotus Eaters.

Release Date: June 29, 2004
Tracks: 26 - Disc One (13) - Time: 72:34; Disc Two (13) - Time: 77:44
Produced by: Various
Format: CD
Website: www.deadcandance.com

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Track Listing:

Disc One:
In the Wake of Adversity (Arcana) / Spirit (Persephone) / Cantara (Danny Lilker w/ Lisa Sehreib) / Bylar (Ataraxia) / Mesmerism (Faith and the Muse) / The Arcane (Trail of Tears) / Windall Introducing Summoning of the Muse (Hortus Animae w/ Liv Kristine Espenaes) / Cardinal Sin (Amber Asylum) / Oman (Grido) / Spirit (Daniel Cavanaugh) / The Lotus Eaters (Imperia) / Avatar (Ephemeral Sun) / The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Sarah Jezebel Deva).

Disc Two:
Fortune Present Gifts Not According to the Book (Black Tape for a Blue Girl) / American Dreaming (Jarboe) / Black Sun (Antimatter) / In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated (The Gathering) / The Ubiguitous Mr Lovegrove (Nightfall) / Anywhere Out of the World (Darkwell) / In the Kingdom of the Blind, The One-Eyed Are Kings (Ulver) / Desert Song (Akrabu) / How Fortunate is the Man With None (Noekk) / Enigma of the Absolute (Imperial Black) / The Protaganist (Secrets of the Moon & Nostalgia / Windfall (Monumentum) / Summoning of the Muse - Deconstructed (Subterranean Masquerade).

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