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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Linoleum

‘fear, anger and paranoia’

In 1995 Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails won a Grammy award for their live performance of the song ‘Happiness in Slavery’ as captured on Woodstock ’94. The category was ‘Best Metal Performance’. I’m not sure anyone watching the recording – with its military assault on the senses and body-surfing audience – would have seen a possible David Sylvian collaboration on the horizon for one of the musicians.. ..but that was how things panned out. Chris Vrenna had been a performing member of NIN since 1989, contributing powerful drums to their hard-edged live industrial rock sound. Continue reading “Linoleum”

How Safe is Deep?

‘Stealthily as perfume..’

Like many fans of Japan, my first exposure to the work of Russell Mills was the cover of their post-split compilation on Virgin Records, Exorcising Ghosts, released late in 1984 after Sylvian’s solo debut Brilliant Trees had hit the record stores. In those pre-CD, pre-download days the artwork was such an integral part of the experience of a new release. A glorious gatefold with carefully crafted typography and art by Mills. I loved how tactile the image seemed, even when reproduced in the gloss of an album sleeve.. ..so expressive, suggestive of something natural and elemental. Continue reading “How Safe is Deep?”