On October 24th, 1988, 4AD records’ post-punk, ethereal, and world music act Dead Can Dance released their fourth studio album The Serpent’s Egg.
The album’s art features a serpentine river in an aerial photograph where singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Brendan Perry explains:
“In a lot of aerial photographs of the Earth, if you look upon it as a giant organism—a macrocosmos—you can see that the nature of the life force, water, travels in a serpentine way”
The album’s two standout tracks are “Severance”, which was covered live by Bauhaus during their 1998 Resurrection Tour, and “The Host of Seraphim”, a track that is often used during scenes of anguish in film scores, such as the end of 2007’s The Mist.
The website Arcane Delights, during an interview with Brendan Perry, asked how both “The Host Of Seraphim” and “Severance”, seem “to plunge one deep into perhaps a pool of self-reflection”, to which Perry replied:
“We kind of strive to do that, especially in songs where there’s less cognitive stuff to work on, like lyrics. So, it tends to happen more so in Lisa’s songs where it’s not so much about the words, where it’s more emotive voice and instruments. It’s a very special place, a very special emotion to tap into but you can’t predict when it’s going to happen. It’s when all the elements come together. There’s a specific moment. With ‘Host,’ when I was putting the string arrangement down, I was working from the bass upwards – that’s the way a lot of baroque composers work too – the basso continuo, when the organ pedals were played by foot. I put that down and thought that sounds nice, the drone but once it started moving, I had a chord above the bass and then the basic counterpoint and then you just overlay it and with every pass, it’s something new. You just go with the flow – it’s like a river, music when it’s working and you’re on this raft, floating downstream and you feel great, everything around you looks wonderful and you completely forget about your surroundings. And then the cello and the strings and you haven’t planned it and this is when you get these amazing meshes of harmony and dynamics.”
Watch “Severance” live below”
- The Host of Seraphim
- Orbis de Ignis
- The Writing on My Father’s Hand
- In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings
- Chant of the Paladin
- Song of Sophia
- Mother Tongue