Preparations for a Journey

‘exploring a different side of yourself’

‘Travelling clears your mind, inspires you with new ideas, or at least helps you pinpoint ideas you’ve had for a long time,’ David Sylvian told the NME in August 1984. ‘If you simply isolate yourself in a room in London, for example, you become too insular, you can no longer centre on the point you are trying to make. You can only struggle for so long in an isolated room before it becomes impossible for you to be objective about it. Travelling helps clear that, you begin to see things more clearly.’

During the last throes of life in the band Japan, Sylvian withdrew from his primary creative outlet: composing music and lyrics. ‘In the early part of 1982 I had, for numerous reasons, decided to take a rest from songwriting. This was to be the first break from writing I had had since I started as a child at the age of 12.’ Instead, he turned his artistic expression to drawing, finding time during Japan’s final tour to return to a craft he had enjoyed even before his discovery of music. In time, his sketching would lead to another dalliance with the visual arts, one with which we would become familiar a couple of years later.

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The Banality of Evil

‘a more unpredictable approach’

Robert Fripp’s online diary, 20th October 2004:
‘Today’s work in London is a recording session for David Sylvian’s new solo album. Eden Studios is conveniently just around the corner from the bijou Chateau de Petite Chevalle [an affectionate reference to the Willcox/Fripp residence in Chiswick, just north of the Thames in London].

Today’s session: for me, a treat. David & his brother Steve were both waiting when I arrived…’

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Science Fiction

‘comprehending our scale within the universe’

Early in the 2000s, Charles Lindsay hit upon an innovative approach to the creation of photographic images that would transform his artistic work, and, without exaggeration, alter the course of his life. The techniques he used were grounded equally in his scientific education and aesthetic sensibilities as an artist. He created pictures that captured the imagination both of academics and fellow artists, leading him into collaborations with individuals from both disciplines – including David Sylvian and Steve Jansen.

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Taking the Veil

‘capturing moments in time’

The collection of songs that came together to form disc one of Gone to Earth was created in two distinct phases. David Sylvian first spent time developing a trio of tracks that he anticipated would form part of a release alongside ‘Steel Cathedrals’ or ‘Words with the Shaman’. These were ‘Laughter and Forgetting’, ‘Before the Bullfight’ and the track first known as ‘Saints and Sheep’ which ultimately found life as ‘Wave’.

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Ghosts – live

‘some sense of nostalgia’

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember why you made a particular decision. Especially one that you wish you could change afterwards… It was late 1982 and I was in the final year at school. Important exams were looming the following year which would determine whether I would achieve my ambition of going to university, and if so, which one I might attend. My fascination with Japan had developed in the preceding months as the singles ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Cantonese Boy’ had been lifted from Tin Drum, catching my attention and drawing me to the album. The plethora of Hansa singles had got me exploring the back catalogue, and I was guided through by an enthusiastic friend.

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