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.

I remember some misgivings as to what would follow next – would he sign for another major label? For all the comments about budgets being limited and the artist needing to take account of the commercial needs of a record company, it seemed to me that Virgin had in the main been a positive partner. Key figures there had given Sylvian the freedom to pursue multiple musical paths, some far from the mainstream. However, the partnership had run its course, so what next? 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”

Sons of Pioneers

Collaboration in a band context

Recently I returned to Tin Drum after a long break. I’m not sure why I neglected it, maybe because David Sylvian has often spoken of his work implying that ‘Ghosts’ was the one Japan song truly reflective of his musical journey. Maybe because the literature and websites tend to differentiate between Japan and the solo period as different eras, and lately I’d given much more of my attention to the latter. Continue reading “Sons of Pioneers”

Come Morning

A glimpse of the path ahead

Collaborations outside the context of a David Sylvian project have been a regular occurrence over the years and have produced some beautiful pieces. Working under conditions established by other musicians has at times brought out unknown or less developed aspects of Sylvian’s craft, and some of these recordings have given indications of his artistic direction in both music and lyrics – a glimpse of the path ahead. Continue reading “Come Morning”

Brilliant Trees

Music and lyrics in perfect harmony

‘Without wishing to embarrass you, I think that’s probably the finest piece of music that you have recorded to date.’ David ‘Kid’ Jensen made this comment interviewing David Sylvian on his UK Radio One show, having just played the title track from Sylvian’s new album two weeks ahead of its release, mid-June 1984. It was the first time that I – and I’m sure many others – had heard this piece. Continue reading “Brilliant Trees”