Into the Labyrinth (Dead Can Dance album)

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Into the Labyrinth
Into labyrinth - dead can dance.jpg
Studio album by Dead Can Dance
Released 13 September 1993
Recorded early 1993
Genre World music, neo-medieval music, neoclassical dark wave
Length 55:26 (CD)
65:25 (LP)
Label 4AD
4AD/Warner Bros. Records
45384 (U.S.)
Producer Brendan Perry
Dead Can Dance chronology
A Passage in Time
Into the Labyrinth
Toward the Within
Singles from Into the Labyrinth
  1. "The Host of Seraphim / Yulunga"
    Released: 1993 (Baraka promo)
  2. "The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove"
    Released: 1993
  3. "The Carnival Is Over"
    Released: 1993 (U.S promo)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link
Entertainment Weekly (A-) 15/Oct/93 p.76
Q 4/5 stars Nov/93 p.116
Melody Maker (favorable) 18/Sep/93 p.40
NME (favorable) 11/Sep/93 p.37
Time (favorable) 24/Jan/94
Robert Christgau (D) link

Into the Labyrinth is the sixth album recorded by the Dead Can Dance duo Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. It marked a strong shift from the previous albums, putting ethnic music influences at the forefront as would be the case in the later albums. It was their first album completed on their own without the aid of guest musicians, and their first album to have a major-label release in the U.S., thanks to a distribution deal that 4AD had with Warner Bros. Records. It featured the single "The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove".


Into the Labyrinth was a marked change on many fronts from the previous album Aion of three years prior:

  • Perry and Gerrard were now living far apart and writing music independently (Perry was living on an island in the middle of a river in Ireland, while Gerrard lived in Australia with her husband and daughter). For the album, Gerrard travelled back to Perry's studio Quivvy Church (in County Cavan, Ireland) where they merged their songs and recorded the album over a period of three months together.
  • This was the first album where Perry and Gerrard played all instruments, without guest musicians.
  • The growing popularity of the CD format allowed for a longer album, 55 minutes instead of the previous 35 minutes on vinyl LPs. In the UK, the CD album was simultaneously released along a limited edition double vinyl LP (featuring "Bird" and "Spirit", the two 1991 bonus tracks from A Passage in Time).

Album title[edit]

The title of Into the Labyrinth alludes to the classic legend of Greek mythology about Theseus going into the Labyrinth against the Minotaur. This is echoed in songs titles such as the following:

  • "Ariadne" (the legendary Ariadne giving her clew to Theseus)
  • "Towards the Within" (of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur being at the center)
  • "The Spider's Stratagem" (waiting at the center of her web like the Minotaur waiting at the center of the Labyrinth—but also a Bertolucci film adapting a Borges short story from Labyrinths)
  • "Emmeleia" (the Greek dance of tragedy)

While not a concept album, this link adds some conceptual cohesion to the album. See also track information.

Track information[edit]

  • About the first track, "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)": in Gerrard's native Australia, yulunga means "dance" or "spirit dance", apparently related to the verb yulugi (to dance, to play) in the Gamilaraay language of the Aboriginal Kamilaroi (Indigenous Australians). In an Aboriginal dreamtime legend, Yulunga is a variant of Julunggul, the Aboriginal mythological Rainbow Serpent goddess.[1] (There is also a Yulunga Street and a Yulunga Festival in South Australia.)
  • About the second track, "The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove": Perry described him as his alter ego, "the abstract relationship of myself and woman".[2] This song was played during the strip club scene in the 1995 Sean Penn film The Crossing Guard. It is also the title of a 1965 Secret Agent episode.
  • About the third track, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley": a late 18th-century traditional Irish ballad that Lisa Gerrard wanted to record her own version of, "it was meant to be a rallying song, but it has such an intense sadness that it becomes an anti-war song."[2] The liner notes inscribed it as "dedicated to the memory of Maureen Copper," but nothing else is established about that person. The recording was sampled by hip hop producer 4th Disciple on Killarmy’s song "Blood for Blood", which appears on the album Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars.
  • About the fourth track, "The Carnival Is Over": described as a reminiscence of pre-teen Perry living in East London, visiting the circus.[2] It also features a borrowed lyric from Joy Division's "The Eternal" in the form of "(The) Procession moves on, the shouting is over".
  • About the fifth track, "Ariadne": the title refers to the Greek legend of Ariadne and the Labyrinth.
  • About the seventh track, "Towards the Within": the title refers obliquely to the Labyrinth, because Theseus had to journey towards the within to reach the Minotaur at the center.
  • About the eighth track, "Tell Me About the Forest": Perry explained, "When you live in Ireland you see the people who have been away for years returning to their parents, and you also see those they leave behind... the breaking down of tradition along with the uprooting and upheaval of tribes. In Ireland, and in the rain forests. If we could only keep the oral traditions going, and leave the clerical bull behind... ".[2] Like the 4th track, this song also borrows a Joy Division lyric – the line "And we're changing our ways, (Yes we are) Taking (on) different roads" from "Love Will Tear Us Apart".
  • About the ninth track, "The Spider's Stratagem": the title refers obliquely to the Labyrinth, via the 1970 Bertolucci film The Spider's Stratagem (La strategia del ragno[1]) adapting a short story by master of the Labyrinth Jorge Luis Borges, "Theme of the Traitor and Hero" published in English in Labyrinths.
  • About the 10th track, "Emmeleia": the title (in Greek ἐμμέλεια, meaning "gracefulness" or "harmonization") was the name of the grave and dignified dance of tragedy in the theatre of ancient Greece (each dramatic genre featured its own chorus dance, being the emmeleia or emmelīa in tragedy, the kordax or cordax in comedy, and the sikinnis or sicinnis in satyr-play[3]). The "lyrics" derive from Lisa Gerrard's usual glossolalia, but because she had to write down a phonetic version for Brendan Perry to sing along with her, this song sounds much more like a structured language. Written transcriptions exist but no language could be recognized.[4]
  • About the 11th track, "How Fortunate the Man With None": for the lyrics, Brendan Perry picked four stanzas from Bertolt Brecht's 1928 poem "Die Ballade von den Prominenten", in the English translation by John Willett (Brecht used a similar version of this poem as "Die Schädlichkeit von Tugenden" in his 1939 play Mother Courage and Her Children, and a slightly different version as "Salomon-Song" in his 1928 Threepenny Opera, act III, number 18). Perry then set them to music for a Temenos Academy production of the play. It was only the second time such permission was granted by the Brecht estate, the previous one being in 1963.[2]

Track languages[edit]

The vocals' languages are as follows:

  • English lyrics on tracks 2–4, 8, and 11.
  • Gerrard glossolalia on tracks 1, 5–7, 9–10.

The songs are a cappella on tracks 3 and 10.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Yulunga (Spirit Dance)" – 6:56
  2. "The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove" – 6:17
  3. "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" – 2:49
  4. "The Carnival Is Over" – 5:28
  5. "Ariadne" – 1:54
  6. "Saldek" – 1:07
  7. "Towards the Within" – 7:06
  8. "Tell Me About the Forest (You Once Called Home)" – 5:42
  9. "The Spider's Stratagem" – 6:42
  10. "Emmeleia" – 2:04
  11. "How Fortunate the Man With None" – 9:15

Tracks written by Dead Can Dance (Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry), except track 3 (words and music by Dr Robert Dwyer Joyce, traditional, arranged by Dead Can Dance) and track 11 (words by Bertolt Brecht, English translation by John Willett).

The 2008 and 2010 limited-edition double-vinyl LP releases had / 1–3 / 4–7 // "Bird" 8–9 / "Spirit" 10–11 / adding the following:

  • "Bird" – 5:00
  • "Spirit" – 4:59

They were the two earlier bonus tracks from the 1991 compilation A Passage in Time, and they were collected again on Dead Can Dance (1981-1998) (2001).


  • Lisa Gerrard – vocals (on 1, 3, 5–7, 9–10), performer (uncredited instruments)
  • Brendan Perry – vocals (on 2, 4, 7–8, 10–11), performer (uncredited instruments), percussions, sound samples (birds, etc.)

Instruments include: bongos (on 9), sitar (on 2, 7), tabla (on 7, 9).

  • Touhami Ennadre – front cover image ("Hands of the World" photograph)
  • John Sherwin – inside image ("Towards the Within" stage set)
  • Ken Kavanagh – all other inside images (photographs)
  • Chris Bigg – sleeve design (with Brendan Perry)

Release history[edit]

Country Date
United Kingdom 13 September 1993
United States 14 September 1993
Spain 1994
Russia 2006
Japan, United Kingdom, United States, Europe 2008
United States 2010


Sources consulted
  1. ^ Aboriginal Dreamtime Legends: "Yulunga and the Watagora", Burramadagal clan of the Dharrug tribe
  2. ^ a b c d e Into the Labyrinth press kit, op. cit.
  3. ^ "Ancient Greece and Rome 1200 B.c.e.-476 C.e.: Dance"
  4. ^ In 1996, Ron Butters (Professor of English and Cultural Anthropology and a member of the Linguistics Faculty) was asked by a student if he could identify the language of "Emmeleia". Butters made a transcription but couldn't go further, then asked about it on the American Dialect Society mailing-list but received no answer. (Link to Butters' 1996 post with transcript at Butters' transcription could possibly be the basis for all the current "Emmeleia lyrics" pages, but because the lyrics pages are much more precise, it is possible that the original Gerrard script was published somewhere or provided to fans.

External links[edit]

About "Emmeleia" lyrics