Dead Can Dance: “The Host of Seraphim”

Dead Can Dance, “Host of the Seraphim” (Remastered 2007), Released October 1988, “The Serpent’s Egg”, 4AD Limited

Dead Can Dance is an Australian music group whose core members consist of Lisa Gerrard on vocals and singer, multi-instrumentalist Brendan Michael Perry. Founded in Melbourne in August of 1981, the original band included Paul Erikson on bass guitar and Simon Monroe on drums. The band relocated to London in May of 1982 where they signed with alternative rock label 4AD. After the signing, Peter Ulrich replaced Monroe on the drums. 

Dead Can Dance’s music are constructed mixed soundscapes of Gaelic folk tunes, Gregorian chants, African polyrhythms, mantras, Middle Eastern music and experimental elements. Lisa Gerrard’s contralto voice, with its vocal range of three octaves, has a unique singing technique known as glossolalia, the fluid vocalization of speech-like syllables that lack readily comprehended meaning. She sometimes sings in English and often in a unique language that she invented from her multi-cultural childhood. 

“Dead Can Dance”, the band’s debut album, was released in February of 1984 and was followed with a four-track extended play in August entitled “Garden of Arcane Delights”. Session musicians were added for the second album “Spleen and Ideal” which had a consciously medieval European sound. This album reach number two on the United Kingdom’s indie charts and built a loyal following for the band in Europe. 

For the sixth studio album , the 1993 “Into the Labyrinth”, Gerrard and Perry dispensed with guest musicians entirely. The album sold five-hundred thousand copies worldwide and appeared on the Billboard chart. This was followed with a world tour in 1994 and a recorded live performance in California which was released as “Toward the Within”. After Gerrard’s solo recording “The Mirror Pool”, the couple reunited to produce the 1996 Dead Can Dance studio album “Spiritchaser” which reached number one on the Top World Music Albums Chart. 

After a breakup in 1998, Dead Can Dance reunited in 2005 and released limited-edition recordings of thirteen live shows from its European tour and eight recordings from its North American tour. The last two albums of the Dead Can Dance nine-album collection were the 2012 “Anastasis” and the 2018 “Dionysus” which was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dead Can Dance’s tours were canceled from October 2019 until 2022. A 2022 European tour did take place; a second leg of that tour was scheduled for later in the year as well as a North American tour for 2023. However, citing unspecified health reasons, those scheduled tours were canceled. In May of 2023, Lisa Gerrard confirmed that Dead Can Dance had once more disbanded. No further information has been announced so far. 

The “Host of the Seraphim” is the opening track from the fourth studio album by Dead Can Dance, “The Serpent’s Egg”,  which was released in October of 1988. The album was recorded in a multi-story apartment block in the Isle of Dogs, London. “Host of the Seraphim” was featured in the soundtrack of the 1992 non-narrative documentary film “Baraka”, the theatrical trailers of the 2003 “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and the 2006 “Home of the Brave”, the final scenes of the 2007 “The Mist” and in the 2018 “Lord of Chaos”. 

One thought on “Dead Can Dance: “The Host of Seraphim”

  1. Am listening to “Host of the Seraphim” right now and loving it! Thanks very much as I often forget about past bands I used to really like. Still can’t get past the extensive research you do on a myriad
    of interesting subjects.

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