I started to listen to Dead Can Dance a few years ago, and I've also followed the solo work of Lisa Gerrard--one half of the band--after Dead Can Dance split up. I've been trying to think how to describe their music to you, and I have to say it's pretty difficult. Their image is goth, but their music encompasses medieval, Middle Eastern, Irish folk, Native American and trance music. The thing that holds this whole melange together--in my opinion--is Lisa Gerrard's incredible voice. Lisa is the female equivalent of a counter-tenor; her voice is unusually deep, and if you didn't know what sex she was, "male? female?" would be flicking back and forth across your mind, like an auditory version of that vase-face visual illusion.
'Toward The Within' is a live album, and unusual because it has a lot of previously unrecorded material, and because it is also excellently recorded. I often think that live albums are a bit pointless unless you were actually there and want something to remind you of the experience, but many of the tracks on this one are better than the studio versions.
'Rakim' is a wonderful, percussion-lead track with the vocals of Gerrard and Perry weaving in and out in a very pleasing way. 'Yulunga' is a totally hypnotic piece--I think that I probably actually could go into a trance listening to it on headphones. 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' is a lovely a capella rendition of an Irish folk song by Lisa Gerrard, and is incredibly moving and haunting. I think it takes a fantastic voice--and a lot of courage--to sing something so naked live. There are so many great tracks on this album that I can't mention them all, but 'Cantara', 'Song of the Sibyl' and 'Sanvean' are all outstanding, unusual and rather mind-blowing pieces of music.