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.
In searching for the right material to be his catalyst, Sylvian gave careful consideration as to who the right musical partners might be. ‘So much of the work is done prior to ever setting foot inside a studio,’ he explained, ‘via research, understanding the background, the aesthetics and flexibility of each musician involved, and selecting who should be in which ensemble with whom. These aren’t random decisions made out of convenience. They’re educated assessments.’
Continue reading “Snow White in Appalachia”
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.
Continue reading “When Poets Dreamed of Angels”
‘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.’
Continue reading “Concert for Japan”
‘the blindness, the absolute darkness’
For the music of Sylvian/Fripp there would be a move away from the vocalist’s long-standing studio partner. Steve Nye had been involved as producer, engineer or mixer from Japan’s Tin Drum, throughout Sylvian’s trio of solo albums and onto Rain Tree Crow’s eponymous release in 1991. ‘I had a desire to go into another sonic area,’ explained the singer. ‘I love the warmth and beauty of the tones that Steve gets. Steve also used to give me a lot of feedback on the way I arranged things. But as I have continued to develop, it just seemed natural to move away. We’d exhausted our relationship to some degree. We might work together again, but for now I enjoy working with different engineers and co-producers.’
Continue reading “God’s Monkey”
‘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.
Continue reading “The Scent of Magnolia”