Concert for Japan

‘we must have done some wrong to nature’

On Friday 11 March 2011 at 2.46pm a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the east coast of Japan. The Guardian newspaper has described the event as ‘the fourth most powerful in the history of seismology. It knocked the Earth six and a half inches off its axis; it moved Japan four metres closer to America. In the tsunami that followed, more than 18,000 people were killed. At its peak, the water was 40 metres high. Half a million people were driven out of their homes.’

Adding to the heart-breaking devastation caused by the violent tremors and freak waves, a disaster would unfold in slow motion at the Fukushima Daiichi power station standing right on the coastline. As night fell on the day of the quake millions of households were without power but the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) insisted that radiation levels were not abnormal. However, by 15 March three of the four reactors on the site had suffered nuclear meltdowns due to the loss of core cooling, there were three hydrogen explosions and extensive radioactive contamination was emitted into the atmosphere. This was the most severe nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986; 154,000 citizens were evacuated from their homes within a 20km radius of the beleaguered plant.

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God’s Monkey

‘the blindness, the absolute darkness’

For the music of Sylvian/Fripp there would be a move away from the vocalist’s long-standing studio partner. Steve Nye had been involved as producer, engineer or mixer from Japan’s Tin Drum, throughout Sylvian’s trio of solo albums and onto Rain Tree Crow’s eponymous release in 1991. ‘I had a desire to go into another sonic area,’ explained the singer. ‘I love the warmth and beauty of the tones that Steve gets. Steve also used to give me a lot of feedback on the way I arranged things. But as I have continued to develop, it just seemed natural to move away. We’d exhausted our relationship to some degree. We might work together again, but for now I enjoy working with different engineers and co-producers.’

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The Scent of Magnolia

‘unorthodox with a lot of movement’

When David Sylvian’s career-to-date retrospective album Everything and Nothing appeared in 2000, it turned out to be a compilation with a difference. Among the familiar songs from twenty years of his musical history were some never-before-heard tracks spanning the entire period. The artist was clear, however, that these were not inferior and therefore discarded out-takes.

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Song

Last words

The first time I heard Franz Wright’s voice I had no idea of the identity of the speaker. It was 7 September 2013 and the premiere of The Kilowatt Hour, a trio of Christian Fennesz, Stephan Mathieu and David Sylvian, taking place at the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway. The venue was the main screen at the local cinema: the sound system powerful and detailed, the acoustics perfect.

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Cover Me with Flowers – live

‘the bridge between rhythm and harmony’

On 23 July 2001, David Sylvian sat down at home to write what would become his introduction for the smart hard-backed concert programme to accompany his forthcoming tour. ‘It’s a warm summer night in New England. Moths are climbing over the wire mesh screens which cover the windows trying to reach the light of the office and the glow of the computer monitor. All is quiet but the beating of wings against wire and the hum of the hard drive. I’m three weeks away from commencing rehearsals for the Everything and Nothing tour. We’re clearing out an old barn on the property, bringing in fresh power from the road expressly for this purpose.

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