Yin – Yang

Sound as aura

In January 2018, David Sylvian contacted Jon Abbey and Yuko Zama in New York to gauge their interest in releasing some music by the Berlin-based musicians Biliana Voutchkova and Michael Thieke. Jon’s Erstwhile Records is home to recordings by some of the foremost innovators and improvisers in the contemporary scene with his wife Yuko involved in production and taking a lead in design. The label’s output had been one of the resources that Sylvian had explored whilst preparing for the Manafon project, and the AMPLIFY 2004: addition festival in Germany – co-curated by Abbey and Keith Rowe – was where he met some of the musicians who would feature on that record for the very first time (see ‘Snow White in Appalachia‘).

Sylvian had designed a cover featuring his own photographs for violinist Voutchkova and clarinetist Thieke’s release the previous year, As Found, where the pair were accompanied by the electro-acoustic sound-layering of Roy Carroll. The new proposal was quite a different proposition, being a three-disc set of live concerts from Voutchkova & Thieke’s Blurred Music project, where pre-recorded material mingles with live improvisations which respond to the specific moods and environments encountered on the day of performance.

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Ti Ho Aspettato (I Have Waited for You)

Wrestling with angels

Paolo Bedini’s first involvement with David Sylvian’s activities in Italy came through the television programme Doc, a show for which the singer performed a number of pieces with the full band line-up for his 1988 In Praise of Shamans tour. It was the start of a productive working relationship that helped Sylvian to deepen his connection with an appreciative audience in the country and included staging the only European outing for the trio of Sylvian, Fripp and Gunn in 1992.

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Snow White in Appalachia

Mining for gold

In 2004, David Sylvian entered Christoph Amann’s studios in Vienna for the initial sessions that would surface on Manafon some five years later. In reality, though, this wasn’t the beginning. The concept was to expand the approach of responding to freely improvised music through his own automatic writing, pioneered with such impact on Blemish. This time around the musical improvisations would not be Sylvian’s own, nor the output of a solo performer as was the case with Derek Bailey, but rather the result of the chemistry between small constellations of artists proficient in the field.

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When Poets Dreamed of Angels

Acts of violence

Early in 2020 Italian journalist and music critic Gabriele Ansaloni, aka Red Ronnie, invited guitarist Phil Palmer to appear on his online show. Over the course of their conversation he played Palmer a selection of vinyl featuring his contributions – just a small selection from over 500 albums on which he has appeared. Their conversation started with the story of Phil’s work with David Bowie and Iggy Pop on the latter’s album The Idiot, in particular his solos on ‘Nightclubbing’ where he was asked to reproduce the experience of walking by night down Wardour Street in London’s Chinatown and hearing the music tumbling into the streets from the various clubs as he passed.

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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.’

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