I don’t know a lot about Dead Can Dance, except that they seem to have released a whole lot of pleasant industrial electronic instrumental pieces. Wikipedia describes them as an “ambient world music band”, which is every bit as meaningless as you might expect. But anyway, in 1983, they recorded the first of two John Peel sessions. At the time, they were still a few months away from releasing their debut album, so this session finds them in very early form.
This session opens with Orion, from. It’s a soaring piece with some slightly lacklustre drumming, but otherwise it sounds really good. It’s definitely very evocative of the early 1980s, but that’s never a bad thing.
Labour of Love is more of a traditional song, with vocals and everything. To my ears, it sounds a lot like the early work of The Cure. As on the first track, the drumming sounds similarly out of place, but everything else sounds very strong.
Next track Ocean appeared on their eponymous first album a few months after the session was recorded. Honestly, this track is a bit waily, and it’s difficult to know what’s going on for most of it, so it’s perhaps a little surprising that this one made it onto the album where the previous two did not.
Threshold is also on the first album Dead Can Dance, and it’s another waily industrial piece, but somehow this one’s a bit stronger than its predecessor – maybe the elements just come together slightly more smoothly here, or maybe it’s just my imagination.
This session is available on a limited edition 12″ entitled John Peel Session 19.11.1983 and the box set 1991-1998, neither of which is currently available.