In 1996, Dead Can Dance put out the album "Spiritchaser."
Lisa Gerrard, an Australian, and her British creative partner, Brendan Perry, didn’t plan for a 16-year gap between albums. After "Spiritchaser," the two worked on sessions for a new album that were eventually abandoned. "We just weren’t able to find the fiber that binds and connects us," Gerrard said.
That fiber was established in 1981 when Gerrard and Perry founded Dead Can Dance in Melbourne. They quickly developed a cult following throughout Europe for ambient music that blended rhythms from all over the world into an ethereal cocktail.
But the duo’s albums weren’t generally available in the United States until the first part of the 1990s, when their record company made a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records. While none of their ensuing albums reached higher than No. 75 on the Billboard album charts, "Spiritchaser" reached No. 1 on Billboard’s world-music chart. A cult that had been established across Europe spread to the U.S.
The two amicably ended their creative partnership but stayed in contact, eventually reuniting for a tour in 2005. Gerrard spent time working on movie soundtracks (including "The Insider" and "Gladiator") while Perry focused on music production and solo projects.
But gradually talks about resurrecting Dead Can Dance intrigued the two, as they got on the phone and discussed subjects that first connected them when they met, when Gerrard was just 17. "We were discovering books, painting, poetry, periods of time in music," Gerrard said. "We were able to pick up the thread. That’s where we connect. We’re both frustrated academics."
The result was "Anastasis," which Gerrard and Perry are promoting on a world tour, the duo splitting vocal responsibilities as they bring old and new songs together.
"Ultimately, what you want to do with music is create a bridge," Gerrard said. The new album explores ancient instruments like the yangqin and the bodhrán, as well as experimenting with synthesized soundscapes that invoke Turkish and Greek elements. The latter comes from Gerrard’s upbringing in Australia, where she grew up in an Irish immigrant community next to Little Greece and Little Turkey.
Who » Dead Can Dance
When » Friday, Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Where » Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City
Tickets » Sold out