Taking the Veil

‘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”

Damage

‘a healing of sorts’

London’s Royal Albert Hall is a spectacular venue for any kind of event. You alight from the underground at South Kensington station just a few streets away from Stanhope Gardens in whose elegant white-washed apartments Messrs Sylvian, Jansen, Barbieri and Karn lived during the height of Japan’s success, and where Steve Jansen photographed the lead singer on the rooftop by night as part of the shoot for the ‘Ghosts’ single. Heading north, past the grandeur of the National History Museum and V&A, you reach the magnificent concert hall opposite the memorial to Prince Albert in Hyde Park. With its rotunda construction, terracotta mosaics and imposing roof of glass and wrought iron it really is like nowhere else. Continue reading “Damage”

Wave

from ‘Saints and Sheep’

I was at university in London in the mid-1980s, and my primary connection to what was happening in the world of the ex-members of Japan was the fanzine Bamboo. I would eagerly anticipate each new issue, taking a walk after lectures to the Virgin megastore on Tottenham Court Road to check whether they might have a new issue in stock. If in luck, I’d hop on the bus back to Denmark Hill, make a coffee and sit in the one easy chair in my student accommodation to devour the content from cover to cover. The full set of these A5 volumes still sits proudly in my music cabinet at home – and if any of the dedicated band of instigators and contributors should read this, then please accept grateful thanks for being a lifeline to fans in those days before the information superhighway. Continue reading “Wave”

20th Century Dreaming – live

‘a shaman’s song’

As David Sylvian and Robert Fripp prepared to go out on the road in 1993 to support their album The First Day, it was clear that they would need a drummer as a key member of the band. The material had developed since the initial drummer-less Sylvian/Fripp/Gunn trio shows the year before, and the powerful yet intricate drive present on the album would now be critical in a live setting. Jerry Marotta had left the sessions for the album early in its gestation, with the drum parts on the record constructed from early recordings and samples of his playing, at times manipulated by David Bottrill. So, a new band-member needed to be found. Continue reading “20th Century Dreaming – live”

Firepower

Aggression unleashed

1992 and some intriguing snippets started to emerge, first from Japan and later from Italy. David Sylvian had linked up with Robert Fripp, last heard on Gone to Earth, and stick player Trey Gunn. As a trio they had accepted the challenge of allowing only very short preparation time before a series of live performances. Material was being written quickly and further developed through the shows themselves. Continue reading “Firepower”