Red Earth (as summertime ends)

‘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)”

Playground Martyrs

‘Childhood trauma’

Steve Jansen was a part of samadhisound from the start. He helped to develop the new label’s studio after David Sylvian relocated from California to the mountains of New Hampshire. Together the brothers explored the possibilities of the latest recording technology, and in 2002 they began to fashion compositions that would ultimately be part of the Nine Horses release. Steve even relocated for a year with his family to the remote former ashram site that was now home to Sylvian, his wife Ingrid Chavez and their children. As Sylvian took a six-week break to record Blemish, Jansen turned his attentions to evolving material for a debut release under his own name.

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Sons of Pioneers

Collaboration in a band context

Recently I returned to Tin Drum after a long break. I’m not sure why I neglected it, maybe because David Sylvian has often spoken of his work implying that ‘Ghosts’ was the one Japan song truly reflective of his musical journey. Maybe because the literature and websites tend to differentiate between Japan and the solo period as different eras, and lately I’d given much more of my attention to the latter. Continue reading “Sons of Pioneers”

Brilliant Trees

Music and lyrics in perfect harmony

‘Without wishing to embarrass you, I think that’s probably the finest piece of music that you have recorded to date.’ David ‘Kid’ Jensen made this comment when interviewing David Sylvian on his UK Radio One show, having just played the title track from Sylvian’s new album. This was in mid-June 1984, two weeks ahead of the album’s release, and was the first time that I – and I’m sure many others – had heard the piece. Continue reading “Brilliant Trees”

A History of Holes

The stories we create to tell ourselves

Snow Borne Sorrow by Nine Horses is an album that emerged from a strange origin of creative alchemy. Two projects were underway: collaborations between David Sylvian and Steve Jansen, and between Sylvian and the German composer/programmer Burnt Friedman (initially featuring Jaki Liebezeit). Nine Horses arrived in 2005 but the Jansen/Sylvian collaboration began much earlier, indeed some pieces pre-dated Sylvian’s startling 2003 solo album Blemish. The latter exhibited a quite different approach to the material under development with Jansen, displaying a pared back approach to instrumentation and with improvisation at its heart in both music and lyrics.

Continue reading “A History of Holes”