on September 5, 2002
I must confess that I was quite late in becoming familiar with Dead Can Dance, and missed their glory days by a longshot. Considering that I was listening to a number of their stylistic contemporaries, I'm not sure how I missed out for so long. It's very unfortunate that Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry are no longer making music together, but the material that they did create easily stands among the finest and deepest in the past couple decades. To me, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun represents their first true (and arguably purest) masterpiece. Everything they made from Spleen and Ideal onwards was unique and rich both in melody and content, but this particular album sends shudders down my spine like few others can. Although this is far from being a bright and pretty work, the growth between it and their rather unexceptional, Goth-style debut in 1984 is really quite an extraordinary shift.
The arrangement of the songs is a bit peculiar from the very first listen; this is the only album in which Brendan and Lisa evenly split the vocal/songwriting responsibilities, and - in particular - each respectively get one half of the album. As awkward and unnatural as it may sound, it works perfectly, with the two halves complementing each other like they were meant to fall in that order. Still, there is a heavy medieval and Gothic tinge to the songs, intensifying more and more as the album progresses. The atmosphere is only charged further by the addition of strings, tympani and horns, which accent the music beautifully. Brendan's songs are dark, but not quite depressing, with lyrics focusing more on a spiritual and philosophical plane than a dreary and nihilistic one. Each song of his seems to be part of a gradual crescendo, slowly becoming more urgent and intense. It all comes to a head on "Dawn of the Iconoclast," a downright unsettling piece that heralds Lisa's entrance as the primary vocalist. The tension loosens a bit with the beginning of "Cantara," but thunders up again after a minute into the song, continuing until the chimes and orchestra of "Summoning of the Muse" take its place. The grand finale is "Persephone," which begins with Lisa's incredibly rich lower register, moving into a stirring string section that then segues into a thoroughly beautiful vocal performance. Her singing becomes increasingly powerful, building the song up more and more before finally letting it collapse down into a bittersweet and disquieted ending.
Within the Realm of a Dying Sun is probably not the easiest introduction to Dead Can Dance's work (try Aion or Into the Labyrinth), but it is likely one of the most rewarding after repeated listens. The subsequent effort, The Serpent's Egg, begins a steady shift away from their heavier and darker work, so in a way this release marks the final climax of their early period. It is without a doubt one of their finest moments, however, and should not be neglected in any fan's collection.
on March 12, 2004
I've been reading some of the comments about this album. Most of them are purely based on personal feelings and preferences. So is mine, I believe. However, at some point, I think a work of art should no longer submit to personal opinions, rather it should enter the constellation of everlasting monuments to mankind's ability to create Beauty.
In fact, no matter what the opinions are, this is a monument, "Within ..." is a landmark in music creation. And only if the name of the band wasn't so ... dark, perhaps more visibility would be available to both Perry and Gerrard.
The evolution of the compositions in this record are the perfect settlement to this collection of art; each and every title is placed exactly where it should, and no superfluous sound is recorded. You will find it very difficult to point out any kind of mistakes in this record, appart from wether you like it or not.
And of course, as a band, DCD works out just close to perfection. The sublime Perry's lyrics and the supernatural Lisa's voice. It's all in there.
If you ever go to Paris, don't miss a visit to Père Lachaise cemetery. There you will find the tomb displayed on the cover. I was there but only found that afterwards!
An aboslute masterpice.
on September 22, 2003
This album is the sound of Gothic Dream Pop,Yeah this is mostly World Music but it does have a Gothic Edge to it.It's not Goth rock,it's what the Milkbaby likes to call Symphonic Dream Goth.This album takes you into a dream a dream of a dark haunted Castle,or a cold night in a cemetary.This music if you let it can transport you to another place and time.A place that existed long ago and Time that is no more,this album is very haunting and etheral especially the vocals of the beautiful Gothic sounding Lisa Gerrard.Brendon Perry's vocals remind me of a dark fairy tale/musical.
All of the tracks s are pure gold on here but if I had to pick one it would be"summoning of The Muse" which has Lisa Gerrard's vocals,it sounds like a vampire movie set in the 1700's or any real good horror movie set in a older time period.The Sound is really hard to describe but i'll say this If Heaven were drenched in Black and the angels had a gothic edge to them I believe this is what it would sound like.Think classical but with a dark edge meshed with etheral vocals and think of it as a soundtrack to good Vampire movie.We'll the Milkbaby hopes this review was helpful,Mes has to go now.MILK,PINKY WAVE,BABYLAND FOREVER,YAY,GOODBYE,YAY.
on April 13, 2002
Once every decade or so a band releases an album that's just blows everything else away. "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun" is defiantly one of those albums. Dead Can Dance are the duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard. Together they have created some of the best music ever, and this is their crowning achievement.
"Within the Realm of the Dying Sun" is beautifully flowing masterful mix of Goth, world and classical music. The album is carried by the elegance of Brendan's thought provoking voice and Lisa, who has the most powerful voice in all of music. Although you won't understand a word she says (she speaks in ancient languages for the most part) her voice will touch you in a profound way. Behind them are beautiful brass and string sections as well as an assortment of old sounding instruments (most of which are authentic) played by Lisa and Brendan. The music has an atmosphere to it that is one of a kind. It goes beyond the music, it's a deep and spiritual fulfillment. Another great thing about this album is Brendan's lyrics. Dark, melancholic, philosophical and depressing without being the least bit contrived (like a lot of the typical "I hate myself and I wanna die" bands in the Goth scene).
The first song is "Anywhere of This World". The haunting piano pulls you in and then the strings and horns come in. Beautifully depressing and haunting music, and great vocals by Brendan. Then comes instrumental "Windfall". The song walks along slowly like a serpent sliding through the water. Behind the strings and pianos you can quietly hear drums softly being played in the background. This is the ultimate atmospheric instrumental. "In the Wake of Adversity" is another one sang by Brendan. I love the plucked strings, like rain slowly falling down on to your head. "Xavier" is the last Brendan led song. It starts out with a great female vocal part (I'm not sure if its Lisa or not) and then the epic song begins. More great singing and real good piano on this one. Then comes one of the most powerful songs I've heard... "Dawn of the Iconoclast" starts with powerful horns and drums, and finally ends with the violins peaking. Lisa's voice will send a chill down your spine. "Cantara" is very Arabian influenced. After a long intro, rhythmic beats come in making it the most lively song on the album. "Summoning of the Muse" is probably my favorite song on here. The music is so tragic. The name gives you the felling of the muse being forced to perform, so very tragic. "Persephone" is another depressing one. As always Lisa's vocals are out of this world. The song gives the feeling of a loved one dying. I like the flute part too.
There you have it, one of the best albums ever. Let me make this clear not only are there no bad songs, there are no songs that aren't great. Anyone who likes classical, world, Goth or progressive MUST add this album to their collection. Also check out the other DCD albums, I have three others and although they're not as amazing as this one they're really worth having. Oh, another thing, check out the amazing album cover. It fits in with the musically perfectly.
on December 8, 2001
I was introduced to Dead Can Dance by buying the soundtrack to the film/documentary Baraka. When I heard the song "The Host of Seraphim", I was truly enthralled by this beautiful, awe-inspiring piece. So I decided that I wanted to hear other songs from this group,even though I was a bit skeptical: suppose Host of Seraphim was the only good song they did? I answered my own question when I bought "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun".
Needless to say, this whole CD is absolutely wonderful! Brenden Perry's and Lisa Gerrard's voices are truly beautiful. My favorite songs are Anywhere Out of the World(very melancholy music but nonetheless a gorgeous piece with Brenden Perry's somber voice), Cantara(an Indian-techno piece), and Dawn of the Iconoclast (the trumpets and drums reminds me of the imagery of the judgement day when all men are reckoned before God); but all the songs are equally divine.
Is this considered Gothic music? Maybe....but it can be enjoyed by anyone despite their taste of music. Absolutely no heavy metal on this piece....most of the CD is really melancholy pieces, but not sooo somber that you get depressed. Beautiful music indeed.
Worth the money!!!!
on August 29, 2001
I am not, by any stetch of the imagination, a 'Goth,' nor am I someone who listens to Goth music. Strange, you might say, that I'm reviewing this -- and that, if you click on my name above, you'll see that I also reviewed two of the This Mortal Coil albums. Clearly I do listen to Goth music from time to time. I suppose I'm guilty as charged. However, while I admit that This Mortal Coil is clearly Goth music, I will not admit the same for Dead Can Dance. They are closer to World Music. I will admit only that Dead Can Dance tends to be moody and dark. Does that make them Goth?
In my opinion, this is the first truly solid Dead Can Dance album; this is where Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry found themselves. I enjoy Spleen & Ideal, the album preceding this one, yet it was not quite timeless. This album, however, is.
Within the Realm of the Dying Sun could be released today. It could have been released in the sixties. Or the eighties. It doesn't matter. Nothing about this music places it in any specific period or style. It truly is a remarkable achievement, and even though I listen to later albums more frequently, I believe this to be Dead Can Dance's best, their masterpiece, if you will.
It begins quietly, leading in to Brendan Perry's vocals. There the album lingers for a while, floating through relatively gentle songs that climax with Xavier.
Then the wind rises.
We hear snare drums cracking, bells chiming -- and then Lisa Gerrard's eerie, powerful, language-defying voice cuts straight through to the listener's heart. There we remain until the album's close, wondering at how far we've come since the first track.
To be perfectly honest, I far prefer Lisa Gerrard over Brendan Perry. Yet I believe this to be Dead Can Dance's best album even though Lisa Gerrard does not come onstage until halfway through. It is a journey they take us on, with a clear, defined starting point and destination. And we're happy to go.
on July 29, 2001
I was only recently introduced to Dead Can Dance, and this album absolutely hooked me. As other reviewers have rightly commented, Within the Realm of a Dying Sun is just about as goth as it can get.
My favorite song on this CD is the Summoning of the Muse. It is haunting and etherial, with both uplifting tones and tones of absolute despair. The clear chimes of the bells, and then the addition of Gerrard's soaring, mournful, emotional voice makes the song an absolute necessity for anyone who likes DCD, or music that will focus your emotions. It is so beatuiful...
Xavier is another transfixing song. Perry's voice blends with the music so well, and the lyrics are very interesting and profound, if you are patient and listen carefully enough to figure out just what he's saying, because he does mumble sometimes.
Anywhere Out of the World is the 1st song, and the dark piano/chime (I don't know what it is, only that it sounds perfect) sets the mood perfectly. The Perry comes in, and you settle in for a time of dark(but not depressing), beautiful music.
Cantara starts out slow, and then speeds up with a fast, more middle-eastern style song. The voices start out a little harsh, but then you just get caught up with it. It's enthralling.
If you are new to DCD, Start with this CD or Aion. If you have some DCD albums, and are considering getting this one, I'll join with the other viewers in saying that this album is a spectacular piece of work, and one will not be sorry after listening to it. I think that The Summoning of the Muse makes the whole CD, but all of the other songs are excellent, too. You will not regret it.
on March 6, 2001
"Within the Realm..." remains in the pantheon of my CD collection. The first minute of the opening track pulled me irretrievably into goth/darkwave. I married the woman who loaned it to me. I think she said "yes" just to get the tape back.
It isn't New Age - it's Dark Ages. Brendan Perry was the Frank Sinatra of goth, with his soothing tenor flowing over medieval, operatic pop. Lisa Gerrard - well, just read the other reviews. She must have at least a two-and-a-half octave range.
Dead Can Dance was (They broke up in 1999) almost as good as Lycia at changing environment through sound. Throughout this album, you're walking alone through 15th-century castle halls at twilight. The sheer yearning Perry brings to "Xavier" rivals fellow Irishman Van Morrison's rendition of "Motherless Child." "Cantara" is, of course, a primo booty-shaker if you're dancing in a room full of candles with amber hanging thick in the air. All the songs have that echoing, cinematic quality that works so well in dark music. Like most DCD albums, there are no lyrics. For the murkier songs, you can find at least one website that has their lyrics.
"Within the Realm of A Dying Sun" harkens to a night when "gothic" was an actual historical period, not just graveyard chic.
on February 21, 2001
WITHIN THE REALM OF A DYING SUN was the third LP by Dead Can Dance, the duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, released in 1987. In it, they go further with the classical structures explored in 1986's SPLEEN AND IDEAL and in doing so forged what may be their best album.
It's remarkable that Perry and Gerrard wrote the music for this album after simply picking up a couple of books on scoring. This is an album that, after the somber introductory tracks by Perry, moves into clashing cymbals, thundering timpanis, and exploding brass. The musicians who accompany Perry and Gerrard are extremely skilled, and Peter Ulrich, percussionist, adds a great deal of talent to the album. And of course, there are the voices. Brendan Perry's voice is among the most profound and sagely of modern music. And Lisa Gerrard, as anyone who has heard her sing, has the voice of a goddess.
Other reviewers, much to my chagrin, have thought of this as a "goth" album. Although the album is indeed dark, Perry and Gerrard have always denied attempting to present a gothic image. This is a somber album because Perry further explains his world-view, and because Gerrard's tracks move the spirit in a way that is too sacred to make light of.
Some have criticized this album's layout, saying that it is a mistake to divide the album into a first half of Perry's philisophically pensive songs and a second half of Gerrard's choral pieces. Nonetheless, part of what makes Dead Can Dance's work interesting is the duality between the two musicians, and making the album bipolar merely highlights the differences between their styles.
Every track on this album is excellent, and this was the first album I ever bought where I can't complain about even a single song. WTRDS is probably the best place to begin listening to Dead Can Dance.
on February 10, 2001
I often split the career of Dead Can Dance into two career halves when reflecting on their extraordinary discography - before and after their mid-career retrospective collection "A Passage in Time". Personally, "Within The Realm..." was always my favorite Dead Can Dance LP, especially among all of the LP's released prior to the aforementioned retrospective. The orchestrated passages of brass and stringed instruments that they experimented with on "Spleen & Ideal" came to full fruition here. Dead Can Dance never made two albums that sounded anything alike, but maybe they were on the same wavelength with "Spleen..." and "Within the Realm...". These two releases complement each other so well that I often listen to them back-to-back as a pair. If I say nothing else about this LP, it must be known that "Xavier" is still one of my favorite songs of all time - by any band. Ever. It's musical and lyrical build-up to a beautiful climactic crescendo is one of the reasons that I kept buying DCD's stuff long after I moved onto other musical climates. In my humble opinion, this LP is so close to perfection that it is almost pointless to review, but something must be said of this brilliant masterpiece to those unfortunate enough to not have experienced it.