Kindred spirits: The Blue Nile, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance
Show: With Robin Guthrie on Monday at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-408-3100. www.sixthandi.org. $40.
As Dead Can Dance evolved from Australian goth-rock quartet to pan-European world-music duo, Brendan Perry moved away from electronic keyboards and electric guitars. With “Ark,” his second solo album and first release in 11 years, the Ireland-based multi-instrumentalist revisits brooding synth-rock. In fact, the set includes some of his most techno-oriented sounds to date.
Perry’s return to action could be explained by the lyrics of such new songs as “The Bogus Man,” “This Boy” and “Inferno,” which chide politicians, warmongers and TV junkies. Alas, these broadsides are more vehement than incisive. And even Perry’s indignation can’t inspire him to significantly vary the deliberate tempos of these nine longish songs.
Yet the music beguiles, thanks to Perry’s skills as a composer and producer. Impeccably recorded and richly layered, the tunes pit jittery beats and cascading synth-strings against silvery harpsichord and chattering hand drums. It’s hardly surprising that the acoustic ingredients recall Dead Can Dance’s later style: Versions of two of these songs, “Babylon’’ and “Crescent,” were performed on the group’s 2005 farewell tour. Perry and longtime collaborator Lisa Gerrard recently announced they’ll restart Dead Can Dance next year. But the reunion has already begun — musically, at least — with “Ark.”