A Fire in the Forest

‘a lullaby for neurotics’

UK music magazine The Wire runs a regular feature whereby a series of tracks is played to a guest who is challenged to identify both artist and music, with the ensuing conversation a launch-pad for discussion of artistic trends, innovation and influences. In June 2003, it was the turn of David Sylvian to encounter the ‘Invisible Jukebox’. Included in the music presented to Sylvian was a track with which he was familiar. ‘Is it Christian [Fennesz]?’ he asked. ‘It’s the title track from Endless Summer,’ came the confirmation of his inquisitor.

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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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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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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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Wintersleep – The Wall

‘bearing witness to what’s real’

‘I was pretty well-read by the time I was fourteen, but it never occurred to me to write. I was interested in being a musician or a scientist. Then something happened when I was about fifteen.. ..In the summer my mother and step-father and I used to go to Clear Lake, California, up above Napa Valley. I woke up early one morning and had a strange feeling. I took a walk around dawn out into a walnut orchard, and I sat down. This ecstasy came over me, and I started to write. I ended up writing a seven-line poem. I sent it off to my dad, and we started corresponding about it. It was clear to me that I had to have this sensation again. I had never felt anything like this. I felt that this was what I was supposed to do.

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