Dead Can Dance Split Up After 17 Years

Ethereal world-music duo recently decided to call it quits to concentrate on solo projects.

After nearly two decades of making gothic, ethereal music together, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, collectively known as Dead Can Dance, have decided to part ways to work on solo projects.

"They decided ... at the beginning of this month," their 4AD Records publicist Rich Holtzman said Thursday morning. "It was a mutual decision that seemed to be a long time coming."

Neither Gerrard nor Perry was available to comment on the split.

Multi-instrumentalist Perry and classically trained singer Gerrard met in Melbourne, Australia, in 1981 and within a year had moved together to London, England, to pursue their musical dreams. They were signed to 4AD in 1983 -- a label that was home to such moody, ethereal bands as This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins.

Dead Can Dance released their self-titled debut in 1984. Perry designed the album's cover, a task he would take on for all of the duo's nine albums.

The duo, who were in the process of writing material for a new album when they announced the split, created a signature sound comparable to melodic, Renaissance music, though with a darker edge. From their 1984 debut through such albums as 1987's Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, 1993's Into the Labyrinth and 1996's Spiritchaser, Perry and Gerrard separated themselves from the gothic-rock movement by incorporating such diverse elements as classical music, archaic instruments and, eventually, music tinged with some Middle Eastern flavor.

Where other goth-related groups went the industrial-techno route, Dead Can Dance experimented a bit with keyboards and samplers. But they remained true to their classical roots on such songs as "Mephisto" (RealAudio excerpt) and "The Fatal Impact" (RealAudio excerpt). It's a decision that at least some of their fans appreciated.

"While their music has changed over time, becoming more world-oriented," fan Aaron Race wrote in an e-mail, "I have never been disappointed with their sound. In fact, I think they had progressed quite well."

Fans, however, said they weren't too shocked that the duo had decided to split up. Gerrard had found success as a solo artist with 1995's The Mirror Pool and this year's collaboration with Pieter Bourke, Duality, which featured the song "The Human Game" (RealAudio excerpt).

And at least one fan said he found the group's split encouraging.

"I think that this split will be positive for both artists ... since their musical styles have been growing apart since 1994's Toward the Within," Jose Garcia-Camil wrote in an e-mail. "Perry is focusing on folk-style songs like 'American Dreaming' and 'Don´t Fade Away' while Gerrard's style is more Middle Eastern-like.

"It's sad to hear this," Garcia-Camil continued, "but I'm sure that their new music will be as powerful and inspiring as [what] they did when they were [Dead Can Dance]."

"There have been rumors for years that they were breaking up," 23-year-old fan Jessica Pierce said, "but this is the first time we've had official word. They were supposed to have been working on a new record, but I guess that won't happen now."

Holtzman confirmed the duo had begun work on a new album, but he also said that no new material had been completed before the decision to dissolve the partnership. "[The album] was in the very early stages," he said. "They were just beginning to write songs, so nothing had been recorded yet."

"Their music was a soundtrack for high school and the following college years," Race wrote. "I never tire of it. I am saddened by the break-up, and I think that there will be imitators, but never a band that can truly be them.

"I guess it was bound to happen," he continued, "but it was one of those bands that you suspect will never depart."