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Alternative & Indie - Released November 7, 1987 | Virgin

Distinctions Best New Reissue
Streamlining the muted, organic atmospheres of the previous Gone to Earth to forge a more cohesive listening experience, Secrets of the Beehive is arguably David Sylvian's most accessible record, a delicate, jazz-inflected work boasting elegant string arrangements courtesy of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Impeccably produced by Steve Nye, the songs are stripped to their bare essentials, making judicious use of the synths, tape loops, and treated pianos which bring them to life; Sylvian's evocative vocals are instead front and center, rendering standouts like "The Boy With the Gun" and the near-hit "Orpheus" -- both among the most conventional yet penetrating songs he's ever written -- with soothing strength and assurance. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 13, 1986 | Virgin

Distinctions Best New Reissue
Sylvian is joined by guitarists Robert Fripp and Bill Nelson on this 68-minute CD, which features tracks of Sylvian's trademark vocals and instrumentals. These dreamy, atmospheric works have nice musical support from Steve Nye, Kenny Wheeler, and Mel Collins. © Scott Bultman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 7, 1984 | Virgin

Distinctions Best New Reissue
For an album of only seven tracks, Brilliant Trees is an eclectic affair fusing funk, jazz, and ambient. Its best pieces are the moody jazz of "Red Guitar," the dusky atmosphere of "Weathered Wall," and "Brilliant Trees" itself, both of which feature the woozy trumpet of Eno collaborator and fourth-world pioneer Jon Hassell. The record also showcases guest players like Holger Czukay. Some CD editions also carry the three-part "Words With the Shaman" to make up a fuller album. © Kelvin Hayes /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 27, 2012 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

This two-disc compilation spans the solo career of the former Japan frontman, who in the last thirty years has gone from new romantic icon to avant-garde figurehead. This collection charts that course, ranging from the art rock of his early releases to the electronic experiments and pure free improv of his later work, featuring contributions along the way from some of the very biggest names in the world of experimental music. © TiVo
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Pop - Released October 1, 2000 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Singer/songwriter David Sylvian's career spans a long and enigmatic scene of experimental rock and emotional restylings. Not one to fully absorb the conventional ways of a certain circuit, Sylvian is a realist musician. He is ambitious in molding his own catharses within layers of woodwinds, horns, and homegrown synth beats, and 1999's Dead Bees on a Cake was only a small cue to Sylvian's forthcoming work. The new millennium brought the release of the double-disc Everything and Nothing, a reflection of Sylvian's previously unreleased older material. Sonically gorgeous with vocals comparable to Bryan Ferry, Everything and Nothing is a vastly expressive record of 29 tracks lost in the vaults of remixes, time, and creative changes; it is certainly a moving package of lush elevations and underrated wordplay. The two-disc set hums with eclectic instrumental constructions and tinges of Middle Eastern material, especially on tracks such as "Ride." "Pop Song" is more attractive with its abstract guitar riffs and whimsical synth loops, and "Some Kind of Fool," a long-lost Japan song intended to be on 1980's Gentleman Take Polaroids, is electronically driven. It's naturally abrasive in lyrical poetry, and Sylvian's atmospheric nature to float over the initial song composition is classic. "Jean the Birdman" echoes the sultriness of Peter Murphy, but Sylvian is shiftless at the same time with his funkadelic mood. The textural differences among the cuts make Everything and Nothing particularly inviting, reflecting the wholehearted desire that continues to make David Sylvian a fresh contributor. He is surprising, professional, and unattached to what's common. Everything and Nothing is undoubtedly a firm recognition of Sylvian's musical wizardry. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 29, 1999 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Booklet
Fans of David Sylvian may consider some of his earlier releases to have been autumnal spectacles filled with intoxicating arrangements and some of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs ever composed. At face value, Dead Bees on a Cake should have been one of David Sylvian's most spiritually fulfilled and innovative releases -- maybe next time. One can admire the rich vocals and impeccable instrumental performances by Talvin Singh, Steve Jansen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Marc Ribot, among others; however, for David Sylvian, even beautiful tracks like "The Shining of Things" are the sonic equivalent of running on a treadmill. One song makes this worth the price of admission: "Midnight Sun"; while the vocals are classic Sylvian, the bluesy, swampy sound of this track is completely new to him. It would have been fantastic if other songs on the album had followed in a similarly inventive vein. © Sanz Lashley /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 18, 2002 | Discipline Global Mobile

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Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin Records

Fans of David Sylvian may consider some of his earlier releases to have been autumnal spectacles filled with intoxicating arrangements and some of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs ever composed. At face value, Dead Bees on a Cake should have been one of David Sylvian's most spiritually fulfilled and innovative releases -- maybe next time. One can admire the rich vocals and impeccable instrumental performances by Talvin Singh, Steve Jansen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Marc Ribot, among others; however, for David Sylvian, even beautiful tracks like "The Shining of Things" are the sonic equivalent of running on a treadmill. One song makes this worth the price of admission: "Midnight Sun"; while the vocals are classic Sylvian, the bluesy, swampy sound of this track is completely new to him. It would have been fantastic if other songs on the album had followed in a similarly inventive vein. © Sanz Lashley /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 5, 1993 | Discipline Global Mobile

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 14, 1985 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Venture

Sylvian's downward spiral continues with this pointless collection of instrumental dirge. Originally meant to be a companion to Everything and Nothing, only one of calculating means could pass off "New Moon at Red Deer Wallow" as a musician's track. Pieces worth hearing like "Blue of Noon" and all those missing from the instrumental part of "Gone to Earth" (only released in Japan and as part of Weatherbox) thus remain out of reach. The best pieces here are better served on their respective albums ("Gone to Earth," "Rain Tree Crow"). Buying this album just for the few new pieces, such as a "Mother and Child" remix, Camphor itself seems hardly worth it. Best then to hang on for the reissues of the first three albums, which may include the missing links. © Kelvin Hayes /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2009 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

If there is a single theme that runs through David Sylvian's Manafon, it's simply: "No hope...no doubt." Like 2003's Blemish, it's a rather difficult record, and its emotional and spiritual cousin. It's dark, fraught with emotional and musical difficulty, nonlinear sounds and improvised music, and lyric themes that express a tension between hopelessness and the love of everyday life. The title comes from the name of a village in Wales where the poet R.S. Thomas once lived, studied the Welsh language, and published his first three volumes. He is the principal muse for Manafon, though there are others. Much of the writing reflects -- like Blemish -- Sylvian's own struggles, though they are often (but not always) relegated to the third person. The studio musicians have either worked with Sylvian before or with one another: they include saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist John Tilbury, guitarists Christian Fennesz and Keith Rowe, members of Polwechsel, and turntablist/guitarist Otomo Yoshihide, among others. There are no drums. It must also be said that the presence of the late Derek Bailey (who worked on Blemish) is felt deeply on this recording, which was created on three continents. Despite these vanguard players, Manafon is not an avant jazz or "new music" record. It blurs all categories beautifully, and while it makes listeners work a bit, its payoff is a dark and luxuriant dream that cascades, floats, hovers, and changes both shape and shade often, and does so seamlessly. Sylvian's voice is front and center; it is so prominent that despite all of the instrumentation, in whatever musical conflagration chosen for a particular track, the voice is almost on its own. His phrases and lyrics were either improvised to fit the live sessions or were written in response to them. There are numerous electronic effects, but they never intrude on Sylvian's voice, which is simultaneously emotionally engaged in the process and yet detached from the actual emotions expressed in the songs themselves -- even when they are confessional in nature. The album opener, "Small Metal Gods," is an example, and one of the most moving tracks on the set. Accompanied by acoustic guitar, laptop, electronics, bass, and cello, he sings "...You balance things like you wouldn't believe, when you should just let things be/Yes you juggle things 'cause you can't lose sight of the wretched story line/It's the narrative that must go on, until the end of time/And you're guilty of some self-neglect, and the mind unravels for days/I've told you once, yes a thousand times, I'm better off this way...." Other standouts include "Random Acts of Senseless Violence," with stellar work by Yoshihide (who was instructed to use only the sounds of classical or modern chamber music), as well as Tilbury's ghostly piano. Parker shines on "The Rabbit Skinner," the lone instrumental "The Department of Dead Letters," and "Emily Dickinson." "Snow White in Appalachia" contains one of the most beautiful "melodies" on the set, and the closing title track is something so abstract yet memorable that it sums up both Sylvian's lyrical and musical themes as a strangely beautiful construction of their own even if at times they are disturbing. Manafon is a quiet yet forceful stunner, a recording that, if heard, is literally unforgettable. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2003 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The fractured, stark yin to Dead Bees on a Cake's tranquil, sensuous yang, Blemish is an unforeseen detour taken by David Sylvian, who has made eight of his most bare, anguished, and intense songs, all of which are neither pleasant nor the least bit settling. For half of the album, Sylvian is completely alone, accompanied only by his own guitar and electronic treatments. On the others, he is joined by either Derek Bailey or Christian Fennesz, two guitarists with indispensable roles. The opening title track sets the tone, with heavily echoed noise fibers warping and reverberating for nearly 14 minutes. The effects swell and recede at a disquieting but sunken volume, while Sylvian's upfront voice -- more stripped and vulnerable than it was in Japan's "Ghosts" -- slips in lines like "I fall outside of her," "Give me one more chance to do things right," and "Life's for the taking, so they say -- take it away." Bailey's improvised work appears in three songs and is most complementary during "The Good Son," in which his prickles and sudden spasms carry and push, rather than support, Sylvian's voice. "A Fire in the Forest," the album's own "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," lets the listener out with a battered sense of optimism. Featuring an arrangement from Fennesz, a melody struggles to find its way out of twisted fragments and soft beams of noise, as Sylvian sings of his search to reach the sunshine that awaits him above gray skies. Throughout the album, clues are dropped about the events that transpired and the circumstances surrounding them, but it's all left to be pieced together and interpreted by the listener, who will have to sift through the hedged lines, meticulously organized sounds -- from rattling shopping carts to handclaps to delicate fragments of guitar -- and numerous disfigurations of clear-cut linear thought. Blemish is the kind of record that provokes many longtime followers to throw up their arms in aggravation -- it's very much a "final straw" record. A work of beautiful, desolate fragility, Blemish is also the kind of record that will have the opposite effect on a select few, most of whom no doubt obsess over records like Scott Walker's Tilt and Mark Hollis' Mark Hollis. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2011 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

David Sylvian's MANAFON (2009) appeared as a collection of disciplined art songs that relied on his collaborators to inform not only their textures, but their forms. Those players -- Jan Bang, Evan Parker, John Tilbury, Dai Fujikura, Erik Honoré, Otoma Yoshide, and Christian Fennesz among them -- created airy, often gently dissonant structures for Sylvian's lyrics and melodic ideas. Died in the Wool (MANAFON Variations) re-employs these players (with some new ones) in the considerable reworking of five of MANAFON's compositions. There are also six new songs that include unused outtakes, and two poems by Emily Dickinson set to music and sung by Sylvian. The new music here relies heavily on Sylvian's association with Fujikura: he composed, arranged, and conducted chamber strings that are prevalent. Where MANAFON's "Small Metal Gods" was orchestrated by acoustic guitar, laptop, electronics, bass, and cello, this one employs a string quartet that provides greatly expanded harmonics, which underscore the desolate power in Sylvian's lyrics. On "Snow White in Appalachia," strings shift the tune's original sonic gears into diffused, vaporous sonorities. On the title track, Fujikura uses a composed clarinet sample to introduce John Butcher's saxophone, a mixing board, an all-but-unrecognizable guitar, cymbals, and samples to stretch a narrative melody to its ghostly breaking point. Dickinson's poem, "I Should Not Dare," is a standout; its gentle, accessible melody, accompanied by Sylvian's acoustic guitar, is made sharper by Fennesz's electric and samples from Honoré. Parker adds a gorgeous nocturnal saxophone line and Bang provides an unusual string arrangement to create the feeling of deep longing across great distance. "A Certain Slant of Light," also by Dickinson, is less formal but more moodily cinematic with its layers of samples. A delightfully fragmented redo of "Emily Dickinson" completes the sonic re-creation of her image as this set's Muse. On "Anomaly at Taw Head," Fujikura's string abstractions -- introduced by Parker's bluesy saxophone and Tilbury's minimal piano -- add dimension to Sylvian's open field melodic structure. The underlining poetic is tense, but seductive. There is a bonus second disc, too, in Sylvian's 18-minute sound installation "When We Return You Won't Recognize Us." It is a stellar, ambient work featuring Arve Henricksen, Butcher, the Elysian Quartet, Eddie Prevost, Toshimaru Nakamura, and Gunter Muller. It should be listened to on headphones to grasp all of its intricacies. Died in the Wool (MANAFON Variations) showcases Sylvian's restless discipline in expanding his music's parameters, and those of song itself, while offering even greater opportunities for his collaborators to influence its creation. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 7, 2005 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 8, 2003 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 8, 2013 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | Virgin Records

The "unofficial" subtitle of this CD is "music for multi media installations." All that to say that the songs on this release date back to 1990 and were used as part of Sylvian and Russell Mills' exhibit Ember Glance-The Permanence of Memory (1990) and 1994's Redemption-Approaching Silence, which was done by Sylvian and Robert Fripp. Since the music is ambient at its finest, the dates of recording do not matter. The question is does this music stand up on its own, apart from the exhibit. The answer is a resounding yes! Sylvian produces original and interesting ambient music. The selections are long ("Approaching Silence" is over 38 minutes long) yet never get boring. It is to Sylvian's credit that he can keep the listener interested for that long with this genre of music. Sylvian uses instruments and sounds to create his own creative ambient music. The short-wave samples, for example, add an eeriness in "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," which adds to the overall sound of the piece. This music is not for every taste, but fans of Sylvian and ambient music will find this to be a treat. © Aaron Bagdley /TiVo
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Blues - Released September 14, 2012 | Arecano, Inc.