| ||Albums: Dead Can Dance (4AD, 1984), Spleen and Ideal (4AD, 1985), Within the Realms of A Dying Sun (4AD, 1986), The Serpent's Egg (4AD, 1988), Aion (4AD, 1990), Into the Labyrinth (4AD, 1993), Toward the Within (4AD, 1994), A Passage of Time (4AD, 1995), Spiritchaser (4AD, 1996); Lisa Gerrard solo album: The Mirror Pool (4AD, 1995); Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke album: Duality (4AD/Shock, 1998); Brendan Perry album: Eye of the Hunter (4AD/Shock, 1999).|
In the tradition of UK bands like The Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance (DCD) constructed soundscapes of mesmerising grandeur and solemn beauty. The DCD sound is often referred to as `world music', with its embracement of African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chants, Middle Eastern mantras and art-rock. DCD boasts a strong following in Europe and America, but in Australia the duo remains something of a mystery.
The original DCD came together in Melbourne during August 1981 when Lisa Gerrard and UK-born Brendan Perry joined forces. The original line-up listed above only lasted a short time. Gerrard had previously sung with new wave band Microfilm. The line-up of Microfilm was Gerrard, Marshall Butters (guitar), Gordon Pitt (guitar), Nique Delaney (bass) and Shane Brown (drums). Microfilm issued one independent single, `Centrefold'/`Window' (July 1980), and had the track `Summer House' included on the Various Artists album From Belgrave with Love (Cleopatra, 1981). Gerrard's solo track `Mossaic' also appeared on that compilation. Even at that stage, Gerrard's voice sounded eccentric. With the break-up of Microfilm, Gerrard joined DCD and she and Perry moved to the UK in May 1982. Gordon Pitt went on to Dorian Gray and John Justin and the Thunderwings. Nique Delaney became actor Nique Needles who had parts in Richard Lowenstein's feature film Dogs in Space (1987) plus the ABC-TV drama series The Four Minute Mile (as athlete John Landy) and Janus.
Once settled in the UK, DCD signed to 4AD (home to The Birthday Party, The Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil) and issued the four-track EP Garden of the Arcane Delights plus the albums Dead Can Dance and Spleen and Ideal. The first album featured drum-driven, ambient guitar music with chanting, singing and howling from Gerrard and Perry. The original UK DCD line-up also included Peter Ulrich, Scott Rogers and James Pinker. For the second album, DCD was down to the singing duo, with ethereal keyboards replacing guitars, and with cello, tympani and trombones blended. The duo's sixth album, Into the Labyrinth, sold 500 000 copies worldwide. (Indeed, DCD is the biggest selling act on the 4AD label.) DCD songs have featured in the US art-house film Baraka (`The Host of the Seraphim'), the Spanish film El Nino de la Luna (in which Gerrard also took a role), and the French film Sahara Blue, as well as a chase sequence in US cop show Miami Vice.
In 1994, during a world tour, DCD recorded the double live album Toward the Within in California before an invited audience. The concert was also released on video. DCD toured Australia briefly in 1995 and issued the compilation A Passage of Time. DCD issued its ninth album, Spiritchaser, in 1996. Gerrard issued a solo album, The Mirror Pool, in 1995.
In 1998, Lisa Gerrard teamed up with Pieter Bourke, with whom she issued the single ‘The Human Game’ (April). The duo’s album, Duality (May 1998), featured peaceful, meditative music. Bourke was best known for his work with Melbourne electronic musician Dave Thrussell in Snog, Soma and Eden. By that stage, DCD had effectively broken up. Brendan Perry issued his self-produced, debut solo album, Eye of the Hunter, in November 1999.