The God of Silence

Sound collage art

The Uncommon Deities audio-visual installation heralded the start of David Sylvian’s creative input to the 2011 Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway, where he was artist in residence. Invited by Punkt founders Erik Honoré and Jan Bang, Sylvian’s initial intention had been to re-stage an audio installation that he had provided for the Biennial of Canaries on Gran Canaria two years earlier. However, he saw the opportunity to bring together various creative threads to concoct a truly immersive experience for the first night of the festival.

‘It occurred to me that, rather than recreate the audio installation as was, why not expand upon the concept of the work by inviting [Atsushi] Fukui to be a part of the piece, adding a much-desired visual element, and invite performers to participate in the installation, be they writers, poets, musicians..’ (DS, 2012). The stimulus for the visual element came from a poem that Sylvian had written entitled ‘Uncommon Deities’; this was inspired by Atsushi Fukui’s art and had been written for an exhibition of Fukui’s work which ultimately did not take place. A limited edition hand-printed broadside was produced in 2010, for which the Japanese artist provided a central illustration of the fusion of the male and female form into one body, which he titled ‘The Botanist’. This, Sylvian explained in the Punkt brochure, represents ‘the universality of human experience, the undying spirit.. ..self-contained, self-sustaining, a buddhist non-duality.. ..the coming together of the male and female energies as referenced in much of the world’s ancient literature.’ (2011) Continue reading “The God of Silence”

Playground Martyrs

Childhood trauma

Steve Jansen was a part of samadhisound from the start. He helped to develop the new label’s studio after David Sylvian relocated from California to the mountains of New Hampshire. Together the brothers explored the possibilities of the latest recording technology, and in 2002 they began to fashion compositions that would ultimately be part of the Nine Horses release. Steve even relocated for a year with his family to the remote former ashram site that was now home to Sylvian, his wife Ingrid Chavez and their children. As Sylvian took a six week break to record Blemish, Jansen turned his attentions to evolving material for a debut release under his own name. Continue reading “Playground Martyrs”

Laughter and Forgetting

‘Joie de vivre’

Brief airy atmospherics and then immediately, the voice.

‘Running like a horse between the trees
The ground beneath my feet
Gives me something to hold onto’

‘Laughter and Forgetting’ picks up from the theme of the song ‘Brilliant Trees’, here though the joy and optimism are more unreserved. ‘Brilliant Trees’ captures the faltering of conventional religious faith, yet transforming love is found in another’s eyes. In ‘Laughter and Forgetting’ the sense of loss is not so acute as Sylvian again uses imagery from nature to express a joie de vivre that I find uplifting and infectious. Continue reading “Laughter and Forgetting”

Blemish/Camphor

Stripped bare

The final phase of David Sylvian’s time as a Virgin records artist was marked by Dead Bees on a Cake – his celebration of love, human and divine – and then a series of releases that looked back across his career to that point. The Everything and Nothing compilation brought together highlights from his vocal work including some reworkings and unreleased material. Damage was remixed by Sylvian to reflect his take on the collaboration with Robert Fripp. Finally there was Camphor, the instrumental companion piece to Everything and Nothing. Amidst all of this there was the retrospective Everything and Nothing tour covering Japan, Europe, US and Canada. Continue reading “Blemish/Camphor”

Firepower

Aggression unleashed

1992 and some intriguing snippets started to emerge, first from Japan and later from Italy. David Sylvian had linked up with Robert Fripp, last heard on Gone to Earth, and stick player Trey Gunn. As a trio they had accepted the challenge of allowing only very short preparation time before a series of live performances. Material was being written quickly and further developed through the shows themselves. Continue reading “Firepower”