With Spleen and Ideal, Dead Can Dance fully took the plunge into the heady mix of musical traditions that would come to define its sound and style for the remainder of its career. The straightforward goth affectations are exchanged for a sonic palette and range of imagination. Calling it "haunting" and "atmospheric" barely scratches even the initial surface of the album's power. The common identification of the duo with a consciously medieval European sound starts here - quite understandable, when one considers the mystic titles of songs, references to Latin, choirs, and other touches that make the album sound like it was recorded in an immense cathedral.
Opening number 'De Profundis' sets this mood so thoroughly, with bells and drones and more supporting another bravura performance from Gerrard, while the immediately following 'Ascension' builds on this initial effort with further style and grace. It's limiting to think of either album or band strictly in terms of simple revivalism of old music. While the elements being drawn on are certainly of an older range, the results owe as much to the technologies of arrangement and production and a consciously cinematic feeling as much as they do antique pasts.
On Spleen and Ideal, Brendan noted, “there are the pieces that are very much jazz-oriented/influenced an rhythm influenced, and the other pieces that tend to sort of link historically further back into baroque and medieval periods of music. They are just musical frameworks. The actually lyrical content is obviously personal to ourselves and is what makes contemporary sense of our music.”
1. De Profundis (Out Of The Depths Of Sorrow)
3. Circumradiant Dawn
4. The Cardinal Sin
6. Enigma Of The Absolute
9. Indoctrination (A Design For Living)