Starting off the week with Dead Can Dance and their first session for John Peel, recorded on November 19, 1983 and broadcast on November 26th.
Along with The Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance pioneered the sound of Dreamscape and Shoegaze, turning sound into a tapestry of tonal colors, coupled with the ethereal and wordless voice of Lisa Gerard, they created an indelible impression on listeners who were looking for something a bit more luxuriant than Punk.
Formed in 1981 in Melbourne Australia, Dead Can Dance migrated to London in 1982 where they signed with 4AD. Along with label mates The Cocteau Twins and together carved out a rich legacy of music, initially called Ethereal Wave.
Their first album came out in 1984 (this session predates that by 3 months) and immediately created a stir, leaving critics to hover between labeling them “as Goth as it gets” to “plunging into new musical territory”. Both descriptions were probably apt at the time, as Goth was starting to come onto the scene and many bands quickly emulated the deep and mysterious sound.
But until the 1990’s, Dead Can Dance were primarily familiar with British and Continental audiences. They hadn’t been signed to an American label yet and it wasn’t until Aion (their 5th album) was issued by Warners/4AD that they broadened their audience. But even at that, Aion was issued in 1990 and wasn’t issued in the U.S. until 1994. So unless you were combing the import bins at your local record store or had a friend in the UK who could send you things, you had to wait almost a good 10 years before you got turned on to Dead Can Dance. A 1991 compilation album featuring their older material was issued only in the U.S. on Rykodisc – it was later remastered and reissued in 1998 as a worldwide release.
The band split in 1998, but briefly reunited in 2005 before reuniting again in 2011 where they continued to write, record and perform.
But to get an idea of what they sounded like in thier formative period, here is their first session for John Peel, as it was broadcast on November 26, 1983 over BBC Radio 1.