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.

‘There was a fair amount of unreleased material lying in the vaults and I really thought this was an appropriate time to get to it,’ Sylvian told Robert Sandall in an internet-hosted interview. ‘For a number of a reasons, primarily because the industry is changing, there’s no real security when working with the major labels. I’ve been with Virgin for twenty years, but whether I will be with them three months from now, we don’t know. So let’s say I was not to be with them in three months from now, I would no longer have access to this material at all. And as the material was unfinished it would never be released, so basically a lot of good material would have been lost. Also, I would no longer have had access to my earlier work, the back catalogue, in all probability.

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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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Before and Afterlife

Creating other worlds

When Jan Bang heard that Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær had been invited to rework a track for David Sylvian’s instrumental compilation, Camphor, he didn’t hold back in seeking a role in the commission. ‘I said to Nils, “If you are doing a remix of David Sylvian, I need to be on it.” Just like that,’ remembered Bang, laughing, in an interview with John Kelman for the All About Jazz website. ‘Nils and I had been working closely for so many years, and it sort of felt natural.’ (2010)

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Pulling Punches

‘an explosion of frustration’

‘Red Guitar’ was the first song heard from Brilliant Trees, being the advance single heralding Sylvian’s debut album. But when we carefully removed the vinyl from its designer inner-sleeve for the inaugural play of a Sylvian solo LP, it was ‘Pulling Punches’ that launched our ride into the unknown. And what an explosive, energetic opener it is.

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