‘the battle between the animal and the spiritual’
DJ David Jensen interviewed David Sylvian on a number of occasions in the early ’80s for his evening show on BBC Radio One. By the time Gone to Earth was approaching release, Jensen had moved on to a rival station, Capital Radio, so it was there that the pair would reunite to discuss what the new album might promise. Judging by what he had read in Virgin’s press release, Jensen predicted that ‘it’s sufficiently different from your last albums to again surprise a lot of people.’ Sylvian was more measured in response, ‘In a way for me it’s an extension of a lot of the work I did on Brilliant Trees, so I wouldn’t say it was extremely diverse in nature – but there should be a few surprises on there.’
It was a theme he expanded on in other interviews, ‘It’s just like a summing up. It’s something I have to do. I couldn’t just leave Brilliant Trees as it was and say, “Oh well, that’s the end of that avenue; that’s explored.” For me Brilliant Trees is a better album because I was fishing in the dark, I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I have to go through the process of following the avenues that I’ve found interesting – even if it’s against my own will. I still have to do it. It’s something I had to get out of my system.’
Continue reading “Before the Bullfight”
‘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.
Continue reading “Pulling Punches”
Melding abstract art forms
I graduated from university in 1987 and was living in a new town with a new job. The only way to keep abreast of the news of my favourite musicians was to pop into the newsagent at lunch-time and quickly scan the first few pages of the music weeklies – NME, Sounds, Melody Maker. It was impossible to dwell too long for fear of incurring the wrath of the shop-keeper. My budget did not allow for weekly purchases, but vital updates had to be sought out… Continue reading “Kin”
In 1983 the cassette-based magazine Audio Arts published a supplement capturing radical German artist Joseph Beuys in conversation with both the magazine’s founder William Furlong and Michael Newman. The recording was made at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum on the occasion of an exhibition of Beuys’ drawings. The artist, then in his early sixties, quickly widens the discussion to his ‘goals’: ‘I decided in my life not to become a physicist but to try to make an experience with the Arts; to widen understanding of the Arts, to become able to change the social order..’ Science, whilst being highly developed so as to render us ‘even able to fly to outer-terrestrial planets,’ is however unable to make clear ‘what it means to be a human being and what the inner goal of life on earth would mean, and what would be the highest quality for the life of the different peoples on earth, and how they could overcome their inner frustration, and how they could overcome the alienation of their working places. So, in being directed to bring a wider understanding of art which is related to everybody’s labour, on every existing working place, it is on the point where it touches the economical system.’ Continue reading “The Healing Place”
Sat in the Reading Room for Rare Books and Music at the British Library in London, I don the headphones provided. I’ve come to this hushed space to listen to a conversation recorded with photographer Angus McBean in 1989, just months before his passing. Hearing the excited tones of the sprightly octogenarian, it’s impossible not to be caught up in his enthusiasm for life and his sheer joy at recounting tales from a career in which he captured portraits of the stars of stage, screen and the literary arts – Audrey Hepburn, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Ivor Novello, Vivien Leigh, the Beatles, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dame Margot Fonteyn, T.S. Eliot, Benjamin Britten. The list is truly incredible. If a glint in the eye can be caught on audio tape, then surely it is captured here. It’s the same playful energy that comes over in the settings created for his subjects, influenced as they were by his early career as a mask-maker and scenery designer for stage productions and by the impact of the Surrealist movement.
Continue reading “Red Guitar”