Various Artists

Summoning of the Muse: A Tribute to Dead Can Dance

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Released as the reunited duo carried out its first American tour in years, Summoning of the Muse, much like the previous year's double-CD tribute The Lotus Eaters, is an enjoyable enough collection of reinterpretations of the work of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard that can (understandably enough) never fully capture the beauty of the originals. It's still a fine collection in its own right, serving as a bit of a sampler for the Projekt label along the way -- Projekt head Sam Rosenthal's band Black Tape for a Blue Girl contributes to the collection, bemusingly enough with the very same track they did for The Lotus Eaters, "Fortune Presents Gifts Not According to the Book." The other songs are a mix of previously recorded and released efforts and newer work, beginning with Arcana's appropriate choice, "The Arcane" -- as Peter Bjärgö's arrangements always clearly took inspiration from Dead Can Dance, it's a fine start. (As seems appropriate, Arcana are the only band to appear on the album twice, returning with a majestic though admittedly straightforward take on "Enigma of the Absolute"). As is often the case with tributes, the strongest songs are the most original interpretations, often the ones where the group's own personality reframes the core song. Thus, Autumn's Grey Solace's post-Cocteaus wash of guitar and singing provides a new spin on "Musica Eternal," while Chandeen's "In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated" gives a surprisingly modern, almost mainstream twist to the song. Stoa's downcast version of "Cantara" is also noteworthy, piano-led and darkly serene. In contrast, efforts like Rajna's own take on "Cantara," Athan Maroulis and Surface 10's "Ulysses," and Mirabilis' admittedly beautiful "The Writing on My Father's Hand" are enjoyable but not revelatory, appreciative but contributing little to Dead Can Dance's remarkable legacy.

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