Artistic rendition of carnival freaks surrounded by butterflies entitled "vultures"

Dead Can Dance – The Carnival Is Over [1993]

If you have yet to witness the beauty of Dead Can Dance, this is as apt a song as could be as introduction. “The Carnival Is Over” appears as a magical homage to those wonderful circus freaks otherwise noteworthy as society’s shunned and exploited, unfortunate souls first rejected, yet ultimately embraced for monetization due to some outer unkindness (or simple strangeness) of nature.

“Outside the storm clouds gathering
Moved silently along the dusty boulevard
Where flowers turning crane their fragile necks
So they can in turn reach up and kiss the sky”

Dead Can Dance (previously featured here) is the duo of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard described by Wikipedia as neoclassical darkwave emanated from Melbourne, Australia, more distinctly depicted by Australian music historian Ian McFarlane as “constructed soundscapes of mesmerizing grandeur and solemn beauty; African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern music, mantras, and art rock.” Their music transcends time while often evoking long-lost eras of lush musicality with a revitalizing newness and genuine heartfelt touch.

“They’re driven by a strange desire
Unseen by the human eye
Someone’s calling”

Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance (DCD) in a black and white photo within a forest.


1993’s Into The Labyrinth from which track “The Carnival Is Over” is derived, would be the group’s sixth album release but their first without the outside assistance of studio musicians and being primarily written with Gerrard in Australia and Perry on an isle in Ireland. It would also be the first of their albums directly available to the wider American public as their label had a new distribution deal with Warner Bros Records prior to which 4AD albums, including labelmates This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, Lush (previously featured here), and Clan of Xymox were only available via excessively priced imports, though with a delightful heft made with deservingly luxurious materials.

“Outside the circus gathering
Moved silently along the rain-swept boulevard
The procession moved on, the shouting is over
The fabulous freaks are leaving town”

The song itself includes an allusion to Joy Division with the lyrics, “the procession moves on, the shouting is over” being derived from song “The Eternal” off the severe album Closer. Not the first reference in reverence, even Gerrard’s waxing and waning rhapsodic accompaniment appears delicately referential to Curtis’ somber and macabre meanderings. The song is a love letter to the decidedly different, outwardly off-putting, yet often inwardly lovely, in this case unfortunately revered in exodus.

full moon


We sat and watched
As the moon rose
For the very first time”

Dead Can Dance (DCD) logo


Cover Art “vultures” © 2023 – disturbedByVoices – All Rights Reserved

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