Pulling Punches

‘an explosion of frustration’

‘Red Guitar’ was the first song heard from Brilliant Trees, being the advance single heralding Sylvian’s debut album. But when we carefully removed the vinyl from its designer inner-sleeve for the inaugural play of a Sylvian solo LP, it was ‘Pulling Punches’ that launched our ride into the unknown. And what an explosive, energetic opener it is.

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Thalheim – The Church Bells Strike

‘the rebirth of love’

‘Thalheim is a place in Germany,’ states David Sylvian factually on the promotional interview cd that was provided to journalists when Dead Bees on a Cake was at last released by Virgin. ‘A place where another famous Indian saint lives and receives people from around the world. I visited her there and the song touches upon that and my relationship with her.

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Ride – live

Chance adventures

Early in 1997, slipped in with the latest edition of the Medium newsletter – the official information service for Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn, was a simple A5 flyer. ‘LIVE at the London Astoria 2, Saturday 12 April 1997,’ it declared, ‘a one-off event with special guests.’

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Ember Glance

‘ideas of space, time and memory’

In the sumptuously presented book that came as part of the Ember Glance box set, before the reader sets eyes on anything of the installation itself, there is a section entitled ‘The Lakes: preparation’. Included here are treated photographs taken by The Douglas Brothers. A portrait of Ian Walton whose gloriously textural daubs of paint would grace the huge final wall in the finished display. Blurred frames of Sylvian in the Cumbrian outdoors. Hands sifting through rocks, twigs and bones, collating material to be incorporated in a public exhibition that will be staged over 5,000 miles away in Tokyo’s docks.

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Epiphany

‘minor axioms of major importance’

In October 2019 I travelled to the Lake District in the North West of England, my first visit for some years. Accommodation was a rented cottage overlooking lake Coniston whose waters reflected the tones and activity of the overarching skies; one moment aggravated by the falling rain, in another glinting back transient sunlight from whence it came. On the far shore stood a grand country house, at dusk the golden lights from its windows calling out invitingly when not obscured by autumn mist. This is Brantwood, former home of John Ruskin and the catalyst for the visit, for a few weeks home to Russell Mills’ installation, Happenstance.

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