The 15-song retrospective A Passage in Time couldn't properly encompass the scope of Dead Can Dance’s career, and the four-disc box set Dead Can Dance 1981-1998 was simply too overwhelming for some listeners. Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry finally struck the right balance with this two-disc survey from 2003. Wake consists of tracks from across the band’s career, and taken as a whole, the collection shows not just an evolution but a refinement. They started out with the thick, cascading, and often intimidating sounds of “Summoning the Muse” and “Anywhere Out of the World” and eventually worked toward the stripped-down approach of “Yulunga (Spirit Dance)” and “The Lotus Eaters.” Like many dedicated students of folk music from across the world, they gradually learned that the greatest depth comes from simplicity and that the most powerful artists can say the most by doing the least. Wake shows that by the end of their partnership, Gerrard and Perry could summon mystical forces using nothing more than a intensely crafted drumbeat and the naked authority of Gerrard’s voice.

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