‘years with a genius for living’
At the end of the behind the scenes video that takes us ‘fly-on-the-wall’ into the sessions for Brilliant Trees in Berlin, a relaxed David Sylvian leans against the studio wall enjoying a snack of ice cream – the only food he could find in the café next door to the studio suitable for his newly adopted vegetarian diet. He confides to Yuka Fujii, who is behind the camera, ‘I should have just under an album’s worth of material when I get back to London. But I think I will use some of it as a separate single, because it doesn’t sit together as one album. So I will get back to London and I will write some more, and go into the studio and try to finish that.’
Continue reading “The Ink in the Well”
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”
‘capturing moments in time’
The collection of songs that came together to form disc one of Gone to Earth was created in two distinct phases. David Sylvian first spent time developing a trio of tracks that he anticipated would form part of a release alongside ‘Steel Cathedrals’ or ‘Words with the Shaman’. These were ‘Laughter and Forgetting’, ‘Before the Bullfight’ and the track first known as ‘Saints and Sheep’ which ultimately found life as ‘Wave’.
Continue reading “Taking the Veil”
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”
‘A completely different approach and feel’
It seems that there were certain aspects of being in a band that David Sylvian felt liberated from after Japan split up, but there were others that he missed almost immediately when setting out as a solo artist.
In 1986, just after the release of his second solo album Gone to Earth, he explained that his desire for musicians from a jazz background to perform on his records ‘came out of the frustration of working within a band like Japan which was studio-bound. Nothing was improvised except in rehearsals when you are putting the track together. Going into the studio everything was well prepared and you really knew what you were doing, and it was only a matter of sound you were working with. So, when Japan split up I wanted to get into something that had a bit more life to it, a bit more spontaneity to it.’
Continue reading “Red Earth (as summertime ends)”