Dead Can Dance - s/t LP
Perhaps more so than the revolving door project This Mortal Coil, there was no other band in the '80s that embodied the 4AD sound more so than Dead Can Dance. Their labored, heavily orchestrated songs hinged upon a dark, neo-romantic reading of medieval leitmotifs and Renaissance melody with plenty of Celtic flourishes tossed in for good measure. Firmly linked to the Dead Can Dance sound were the voices of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry - the former epitomizing an ethereal swoon counterpointed by the latter's exacting baritone. Their first album found the two Australian transplants living in London and showcasing much more of their Australian post-punk roots than on later albums. Gerrard had recorded a couple of singles with her unfortunately forgotten band Microfilm, and Perry had a stint in a band called The Scavengers.
Joy Division and 154-era Wire were the springboard for much of Dead Can Dance's ideas on this album through the bass-driven post-punk songs dappled with spectral guitar work and primitive electronic underpinnings. If it weren't for the instantly recognizable twin vocals from Gerrard and Perry (the latter of whom carries the bulk of this album), Dead Can Dance's debut could be mistaken for anything that would have come out on Factory at that time. Hints of their more well-known orchestrated sound appear on this album in the form of some hammered dulcimers and tribal percussion spiraling around their songs. Altogether, it holds up surprisingly well.