“Dionysus” review – The apogee of the symbolic vision of Dead Can Dance.

On November 2nd – Day of the Dead-six years after “Anastasis”, Dead Can Dance do justice to their name. The band’s ninth album, “Dionysus”, arises on an autumn day, through a pagan-inspired scenery, as a celebration of the rebirth of an ancient myth. An arrival worthy of the apotheosis we hear right in the album’s first song: “Sea borne”. The more than 35 years of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard’s career prove that they never leave anything to chance. But if “Anastasis” was the result of an unparalleled artistic genius, what vision could ever overcome “Children of the Sun”, “Opium”, “Amnesia” or “Kiko”?

After listening to the 36 minutes of the seven dithyrambs that compose “Dyonisus”, it is a fact: it does not surpass “Anastasis”! But even if you still haven’t heard “Dionysus”, you know you can’t expect anything other than music that brings an artistic sensibility to the next level. Always the right cadence and sublime melancholy. This is the level of quality we expect from a DCD’s album. And I venture to say that the secret of DCD’s transverse success has always been their ability to create melodies that evoke ancestral sounds and messages that appeal to what is most primordial in our species. DCD is World Music, a fusion of cultures and traditions from all continents, and “Dionysus” is no exception to that. So, real fans won’t be disappointed.

“The Mountain” and “The Invocation” will delight you with their Celtic inspiration and the improbable fusions with aboriginal drones from Australia. “The Forest” and “Psychopomp” will enchant you – I pass the redundancy – with the hypnotic chants of Lisa Gerrard. In “Liberator of Minds” and “Dance of the Bacchantes”, you will guess the influence of the indigenous traditions of North Africa, of the Mediterranean and Balkan peoples, with an irresistible appeal to the ritual of dance.

At this point, I have to approach the concept behind “Dionysus”. For those who read Nietzsche’s “The Origin of the Tragedy in Music”, it is evident that this XIX century masterpiece has just won the perfect soundtrack. The principle of fusion and union, allied to the aesthetic beauty of the sonority of DCD, makes “Dionysus” the sonorous representation of the embrace between the Dionysian and the Apollonian, resulting in a superior work brought from Ancient Greece to the XXI century. Even the absence of a single intelligible word does not interfere with the album’s ability to communicate. But that is why it is called “Dionysus” and not “Apollo”. From beginning to end, glossolalia makes us forget about who we are. Linguistic barriers are broken, as they are nothing more than arbitrariness, conventions, and murals erected among people.

As words could never go into the depths of the Dionysian essence, these seven dithyrambs cannot aspire more than to be a tragic art form in the Hellenic sense. That is why the feeling that remains after hearing “Dionysus” is that of a mystical identification with the primitive forces of nature and humankind. I may say, DCD’s music exists in a realm beyond language, consciousness, and rationality. Something that the legion of followers who have accompanied DCD over the years have certainly felt before. Even if it’s not greater than previous albums, “Dionysus” is, as I keep hearing it, the apogee of the symbolic vision of DCD.

Portuguese version:

“Dionysus” – o apogeu da visão simbólica de Dead Can Dance.

Spanish version:

Reseña crítica de “Dionysus” – el apogeo de la visión simbólica de Dead Can Dance.


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