Pathways and Dawns
If you miss Dead Can Dance (DCD) as much as I do, you'll be happy to have this haunting new album by a former member of the band. Peter Ulrich joined DCD as drummer/percussionist in 1983, and played on five of their albums. The DCD connection certainly shines through on Pathways and Dawns , both in the medievalian synth textures on some of the tracks and the incredibly varied and compelling percussion throughout. The guitar, programming, and other contributions by fellow DCD member Brendan Perry don't hurt either.
But this is a solo album, not a DCD release, and Ulrich makes his own way quite well, from the majestic epic of the ten-year-old soldier Taqaharu to the joyous celebration of the source of inspiration on "The Springs of Hope." For those who favor the darker side, "Life Amongst the Black Sheep" should suit your tastes, with its bacchanalian synth drones, way cool drums and percussion, harp sounds, and apocalyptic-folk vocals intoned in the dream-death vein of Sol Invictus or Fire & Ice. "Always Dancing" sounds eerily like a song from a pre-1972 Pink Floyd release, with its somewhat psychedelic-feeling dreamy lyrics and male vocals a la Syd Barrett; the echoing guitar, tight drum, and shaker percussion give the track a bit of a Spanish air as well. Probably my favorite track, though, is the "Evocation" of the free spirit with shamanic-trance drumming, group-chanted lyrics, and wicked, raucous trombone licks. "Here I find tranquillity" indeed, as the lyrics promise, especially in the exquisite tribal ambient ending with flutes, chimes, drums, and rainsticks.
Apart from the derivative, repetitive, Tangerine-Dream-on-a-very-bad-day spacey synth underpinning the closing track, "Time and a Word," this is a fine album by an artist I'd love to hear more from soon.
Projekt, P.O. Box 166155, Chicago, IL, 60616; www.projekt.com