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A Love Letter to David Sylvian
I was recently overjoyed at seeing the return / introduction of David Sylvian’s back catalogue to Spotify in most markets, and wanted to share parts of his work with the wider Community for those unaware of his work.
It seems that it’s not been available for some time, but now it’s back. And it’s a unique body of work that demands exploration for those keen to find something a bit left-of-centre.
The English musician came to prominence in the late 1970’s as the lead vocalist and songwriter in Japan, a synth-pop group with comparisons to Roxy Music.
His subsequent solo work has been described as “far-ranging” and “esoteric” over the years by various critics. Influenced by a variety of musical styles and genres, including jazz, avant-garde, ambient, electronic, and prog rock, he’s hard to put in any one box.
Here’s a semi-chronological look at some of his key solo work which has recently been made available on the app.
Released in 1984, ‘Brilliant Trees’ was Sylvian’s solo debut. This track is already showcasing his desire to expand his musical horizons beyond synth-pop.
‘Secrets of the Beehive’ was his third record, and the songs had a more contemporary structure to them; 'Orpheus' is a classic example. Solid melodies, string sections, and a standard chord progression, it proves that Sylvian can still write in a more conventional sense, with pop mentality.
Another Bee-themed album title, this record came in over a decade later. With it’s industrial 'Trent Reznor' vibe, it’s not an accurate portrayal of the other albums. It flits between world music and strange art rock without warning. However, this track is easily the most beautiful and calming on the record. Lyrically complex and delivered with grace.
‘The Song Which Gives The Key To Perfection’
From 2002’s ‘Camphor’, this features Shree Maa playing the Tambura as Sylvian sings a chapter of Hindu holy text. The book is called 'Chandi Path' and the verse is 'Siddha Kunjika Stotram’… utterly mesmerising.
Back to the ambience on 2003’s ‘Blemish’, Sylvian adopted the guitar skills of Derek Bailey for this album (a cult figure in the Improvised Jazz world), to create textures over his delicate speil of thought. Electronics play an integral, key part of this album, glitching sporadically to keep you off-guard as a listener.
Anyway, that's my love letter to David Sylvian done. I'm glad the remainder of the catalogue returned to the service, and I look forward to many many more hours enjoying his albums again and again.