Just in case anyone's wondering, Brendan Perry's "Eye of the Hunter" establishes which member of Dead Can Dance led that group's forays into world music. Working without former partner Lisa Gerrard, erstwhile Dead-man Perry has made an album of hushed, somber songs without a trace of African, Asian or Middle Eastern influence. Instead, the disc recalls the moody doom-folk of This Mortal Coil, the side project that enlisted members of DCD and other bands on the 4AD label.
As This Mortal Coil so often did, the Australia-bred, Ireland-based Perry unearths a morose ballad by a '60s song-poet: Tim Buckley's "I Must Have Been Blind," which is sufficiently bleak to match such originals as "Death Will Be My Bride" and "Archangel." Harpsichord and strings provide baroque embellishment, but this is basically a folkie album from a songwriter who sees through a mirror very darkly. "Speak to me of isolation/ Feel your way home in the dark," Perry sings in "Saturday's Child," and for those feeling isolated in the dark, this album's sparse light might prove illuminating.
Although less assertive than the albums she made with Throwing Muses or Belly, Kristin Hersh's "Sky Motel" seems positively gregarious compared to "Eye of the Hunter." Like Perry, Hersh played most of the instruments on her album, including some raucous electric guitar. The only other credited musicians are programmers and percussionists David Narcizio (formerly a Muse) and Carlo Nuccio (once a Continental Drifter).
The latter's second-line syncopation drives the opening "Echo," a lively, tuneful song which promises more than the New Orleans-recorded album subsequently delivers. Although the rocking "A Cleaner Light" and the sauntering "Spring" are coherent, many of the tracks are as confoundingly offhand as this verse from "Costa Rica": "You left your lion on a beach in Costa Rica/ It wasn't tame/ I caught us kissing on a plane in California/ It wasn't tame, but just the same/ I would love a better drug." Given this album's bouts of aimless self-indulgence, the real answer might be a better editor.
Both appearing Monday at the 9:30 Club. To hear a free Sound Bite from Brendan Perry, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8105. For a free Sound Bite from Kristin Hersh, press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)