Midnight Sun – live

‘lost in the sound every night’

Recently David Sylvian reflected on the various live outings he has made since his first solo tour, In Praise of Shamans, in 1988. His recollections were particularly warm in relation to the Everything and Nothing tour which included stints in both 2001 and 2002. It was, he said, ‘enjoyable due to the fluency of the musicianship and the shared camaraderie.’ The musicians had evidently enjoyed their time spent together: ‘Socially speaking, everyone found their comfort zone and stayed within it.’ (2021)

It’s an outcome that is all the more remarkable for the fact that several of the line-up hadn’t met Sylvian until the rehearsals commenced just a few weeks before they were due to take to the stage together for the first time. The singer sought recommendations from friends for his small touring band. Keith Lowe, who played upright and electric bass for Everything and Nothing, has attested to the fact that Bill Frisell put his name forward (see ‘Cover Me with Flowers – live’). Keith played with Bill in the ensemble known as The Willies, and it was their bandmate and violist Eyvind Kang who would suggest the name of Timothy Young for the role of lead guitarist for Sylvian’s tour.

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The Ink in the Well

‘years with a genius for living’

At the end of the behind the scenes video that takes us ‘fly-on-the-wall’ into the sessions for Brilliant Trees in Berlin, a relaxed David Sylvian leans against the studio wall enjoying a snack of ice cream – the only food he could find in the café next door to the studio suitable for his newly adopted vegetarian diet. He confides to Yuka Fujii, who is behind the camera, ‘I should have just under an album’s worth of material when I get back to London. But I think I will use some of it as a separate single, because it doesn’t sit together as one album. So I will get back to London and I will write some more, and go into the studio and try to finish that.’

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Emily Dickinson

‘very intimate and revealing’

‘If we’re interested in improvisation, then that suggests that we’re not quite sure what music is. We’ve got some idea but we’d like to find out. So every time we play, “what music is” is open to a certain freedom of discovery, open to question. The possibility of being surprised by oneself or by the situation – that is what we hope for.’ These are the thoughts of Evan Parker, eminent free improvising saxophone player since the 1960s, decades during which he practically reinvented the playing technique of his instrument and in so doing created a new language of sound.

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Five Lines

‘from totally opposite parts of the musical globe’

Dai Fujikura had an early and unusual fascination with David Sylvian’s work. ‘I grew up listening to his music—which is a bit strange, as I was born in 1977. The first album I listened to was Secrets of the Beehive. At that time I was 13 years old or so, and I hadn’t listened to pop music—well, maybe I’d heard it on TV, but I’d never purchased it nor was I interested in any music other than classical. Being a classical musician was my life from the age of five! Practicing every day, doing homework, going to “juku”, which was a sort of “extra school” that lots of kids in my generation attended. So, I had no time to waste, and no time to search in other genres of music.

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Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)

‘where trouble sleeps and the light is found’

In 1991, commemorations planned to mark the 100th anniversary of The Japan Society in London grew into a festival promoting the art and culture of Japan. Celebratory events included Sumo wrestling at the Royal Albert Hall, Grand Kabuki at the National Theatre and an exhibition of Buddhist sculpture at the British Museum. On Sunday 13 October, Ryuichi Sakamoto played a one-off gig at the Hammersmith Odeon. The show began with a recording of a stirring traditional chant which reverberated around the auditorium, a piece we would later come to know as ‘Nuages’ when Ryuichi’s album Heartbeat was released in the UK the following year. His set-list included tracks from his previous solo offerings B-2 Unit, Neo-Geo and Beauty, YMO’s ‘Tong Poo’, as well as exquisite themes from the soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky, The Last Emperor (for which Sakamoto had been awarded an Oscar) and his latest film-music, High Heels.

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