It is no coincidence that Anastasis, derived from the Greek work for “resurrection”, is also a record 16 years in the making. The release reunites Australian artists Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry for their tenth studio album. After a 2005 world tour, solo careers, and simple fear of failing to produce the same characteristically austere music. The final product is quintessentially Dead Can Dance, their patented otherworldly mourns and melodies are as alien as they were in the 1980’s. In similar fashion of recent releases by Cocteau Twins, 4AD helped this work see the light of day.
Brendan Perry exudes a stream of consciousness with continuously subtle beats, coursing through much of the album with a confidence that comes only with age. As each track builds and self-destructs, Dead Can Dance create a seamlessness that allows the album to fit into their musical catalogue and allows them to pick up right where they left off. While they haven’t exactly explored anything new, it’s almost a safe return, spreading the mark they had made so long ago without sacrificing anything in its wake. The greatest strength of the album is the production, sounding more like a creation from a distant land than the computerized norm of which many current artists subscribe.
The opener, “Children of the Sun”, marks their return with a slow-burn, growing to its apex in five minutes, sending the chorus to the stratosphere. The track is also the only time that the band seems to make a step further away from their world music roots. With the horns and the gentle tribal beat throughout, it is Perry’s booming voice that ties it all together, painting imagery that can only be described as angelic and foreboding. The other highlight of the album is “Opium”, returns to their third album, Spleen and Ideal, with its percussion taking over, cloaked with goosebump-enducing vocals that only reinforce Perry’s talent.
Unlike their previous efforts, there are not many moments that bring the bone-chilling, euphoric reactions that are usually associated with a Dead Can Dance release. Much to do with Brendan Perry, the vocals carry most of the album, drenching each track with a semblance of the past, not quite carving its own path and relying on the gravity of their twenty-year-old reputation to carry the record. It’s a welcome return, nonetheless, if only as a smaller imprint on the greater discography but does not show growth or expansion beyond what’s already expected.