Memento: The Very Best of Dead Can Dance is a condensed version of 2003's double-disc Wake, which was a condensed version of 2001's triple-disc (plus DVD) 1981-1998. Condensing the catalog of a group with eight good-to-spectacular albums to this extent is conceptually problematic, but Memento works well as an introduction, even if it is limiting, like a CliffsNotes of a CliffsNotes. Thirteen of the 15 tracks can also be heard on Wake, with "Ariadne" (surprisingly) and "The Song of the Sibyl" (less so) rounding out the track list. Just about any Dead Can Dance fan would agree with most of the choices, but one key misstep is that the self-titled debut goes unrepresented, and there is a pronounced slant toward 1993's Into the Labyrinth and the following year's Toward the Within. As such, this could be seen as an unacknowledged successor to A Passage in Time, an anthology released by Ryko in 1991. Regardless, Memento is a good way to dip your toes in, but don't be afraid to take a dive.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman