Dead Can Dance (album)

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Dead Can Dance
Studio album by Dead Can Dance
Released 27 February 1984
Recorded 1983
Genre Post-punk, gothic rock, darkwave, ethereal wave
Length 51:06
Label 4AD
Producer Dead Can Dance
Dead Can Dance chronology
Dead Can Dance
Garden of the Arcane Delights

Dead Can Dance is the debut studio album by Australian musical act Dead Can Dance. It was released on 27 February 1984 by record label 4AD. This album differs greatly from later Dead Can Dance releases in its incorporation of post-punk and gothic rock musical styles.


On the name of the album—and indeed the band—the band states on their official website:

To understand why we chose the name, think of the transformation of inanimacy to animacy. Think of the processes concerning life from death and death into life. So many people missed the inherent symbolic intention of the work, and assumed that we must be "morbid gothic types".


The album, according to the sleeve notes, was recorded at "Vineyard".

The instrumentation on the album consists of guitars, bass guitar and drums, with added percussion and the very distinct sound of the yangqin, as played by Lisa Gerrard. The musicians who performed on the album were Brendan Perry, Lisa Gerrard, Paul Erikson, James Pinker, Scott Rodger and Peter Ulrich. Erikson returned to Australia and was replaced by Rodger.

Musical style[edit]

AllMusic commented on the album's sound: "Bearing much more resemblance to the similarly gripping, dark early work of bands like the Cocteau Twins and The Cure than to the later fusions of music that would come to characterize the duo's sound, Dead Can Dance is as goth as it gets in many places."[1]


The beginning of "The Fatal Impact" is taken from the 1964 film Zulu, and was recorded off of a television broadcast onto a cassette player. The drum machine used was built into the same cassette player. The percussion featured in the track consisted of three upturned, empty five-gallon paint tins tied together. One of the main reasons this song was not performed live at the time is due to the unorthodox instrumentation.

Album cover[edit]

The album cover is a photo of a piece of artwork from Papua New Guinea.[2]


The album was not released in North America for some time because 4AD wanted to have a proper label deal rather than licensing the artists individually.[citation needed] Modern English and Cocteau Twins were the exceptions at that time.[citation needed]

Some editions include Dead Can Dance's next release, the EP Garden of the Arcane Delights, added onto the end of the album.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]

In its retrospective review, AllMusic wrote that, with the album, "Perry and Gerrard created a striking, dour landmark in early-'80s atmospherics".[1]


The band's touring was limited to Europe during this period, because the album was not readily available.[citation needed] Their early live shows were incredibly dynamic, and very soon the band gained a dedicated live following.[citation needed] In these early days, the band was run in a very democratic way, something which would change as the years progressed.[dubious ]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "The Fatal Impact"    
2. "The Trial"    
3. "Frontier"    
4. "Fortune"    
5. "Ocean"    
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "East of Eden"    
2. "Threshold"    
3. "A Passage in Time"    
4. "Wild in the Woods"    
5. "Musica Eternal"    

Release history[edit]

Country Date
Australia 27 February 1984
United States 22 March 1994


  1. ^ a b c Raggett, Ned. "Dead Can Dance – Dead Can Dance : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 21 October 2012. 

External links[edit]