Artist: Dead Can Dance
Genre: Gothic / Ambient / World Music / Ethereal / Dark Wave
Release Date: 2nd November 2018
Label: PIAS Recordings
‘Dionysus’ is an airy and liberating album from the first movement, entitled ‘Sea Borne’, to the last one, called ‘Psychopomp’. The album comprises of two acts, three movements in the first and four in the second and what it does is seduce your inhibitions into an easy dissolution and refocus your mind onto thoughts of unfettered abandon and ecstatic joy!
There is nothing one can do but be totally in the moment with this album and let the sounds and the spaces in between tickle the senses! Your mind’s eye will wander through sunlit meadows in Sparta accompanied by the bleating of sheep and the clonk of their neck bells, the smell of grapes filling the nostrils whilst the warm sun caresses your brow! The next moment you are standing by the columns of the Acropolis basking in the rays of a full midnight moon whilst the chill of the night air tickles the nape of your neck!
This album forces you to live in the moment, you are energised by the now, your strength increases, and you are invincible! This is a ritual celebration of life itself and how it should be lived, with passion. Dionysus, the god born from Zeus’ thigh after his mortal mother Semele dies after being tricked by Hera into asking Zeus who he really was. He was taken to Mount Nysa to be raised by rain nymphs far from Hera’s gaze and from here he learned the art of wine making which he taught mortals all across Asia before taking up residence on Mount Olympus as the last arriving of 12 Olympians.
‘Sea Borne’ is a masterful opening that to me marks his arrival, the outsider who liberates minds! ‘Liberator of Minds’ does just that, it loosens the knots that restrict movement. ‘Dance of The Bacchantes’ illustrates this nicely, the priestesses of his cult gyrating in wild abandon and freeing his followers from self-consciousness and the restraints of society. The aforementioned bleat of sheep add conclusion to ‘The Mountain’ where Dionysus was raised by the nymphs. If I could describe what getting stoned felt like in musical form then I’d say it was pretty much like ‘The Mountain’ with its dreamy flow played with what sounds like zither and a fujara. Brendan Perry’s voice creating the warmth whilst Lisa Gerrard’s creates the hit! ‘The Invocation’ carries this feeling further as the god of the harvest is summoned to bring luck at the harvest ceremony.
Once the harvest is over winter returns, Dionysus returns to the underworld as a guide to the dead souls on their final journey to Hades.’Psychopomp’ has the feel of a god leading the dead in a weirdly jaunty dance of acceptance to their final place of rest, the flow of water and the chirp of birds adding the accompaniment. It’s like the dead are going about death in the same way they lived, without inhibition. When I die I want to go out with ‘Psychopomp’ playing on a loop for at least 15 minutes after my death to keep me company as I cross the river Styx to the home I’ll reside in for eternity.
This album does not force itself upon you but gently knocks on your subconscious mind which has no qualms about letting it in. No track stands out on its own, I took the album as one complete piece, listening to individual movements on their own not doing themselves justice without the other movements holding it all together. Like HEILUNGS’s ‘Ofnir’ this is an album best suited to quiet moments of ritual and reflection so close yourself away from the world, make yourself comfortable and let the aural magic soak you through to your core...
01. Act I - Sea Borne
02. Act I - Liberator of Minds
03. Act I - Dance of the Bacchantes
04. Act II - The Mountain
05. Act II - The Invocation
06. Act II - The Forest
07. Act II – Psychopomp
Brendan Perry – Instrumentation / Vocals
Lisa Gerrard – Instrumentation / Vocals
Total: 9 / 10