The little drawing of him pushing a shopping trolley through pine woods should, for you, the reader, conjour up images of the music contained on this CD far more effectively than my lamentable scribbling.
David Sylvian – The Good Son versus The Only Daughter (the Blemish remixes)
A thoroughly good body of work, this, despite it being a set of remixes. Normally an album of remixed material is an aural construction that I always find pretty boring. After all, you would think that the artist being remixed would lose on both counts; if you didn't care for the original you would hardly ask for a second helping, or, if you did, the remixed tracks you loved in their virgin state could be seen as diluted in meaningless and usually ineffectual ways. But enough procrastinations Mr. Foster! On to the review.
Because I am writing about a release that falls under the banner of "David Sylvian", I could, as a reviewer, safely indulge in a couple of hundred words rabbiting on about Japan, or minimalism, or new age, or dissonance, or even make-up. And then give you ten words of description. But I won't. No, no mention of Japan here, I'm afraid.
What I will talk about is the remarkable way this record gets it's point across with the minimum of fuss. There's a great deal of space and silence employed in all the remixes, most notably on the opening three tracks, "The Only Daughter" (which fetures Ryoji Ikeda) "Blemish" (remixed by Burnt Friedman) and "The Heart Knows Better" (deconstructed (no I wasn't going to repeat the word Remixed again) by Sweet Billy Pilgrim). These tracks are a veritable three card trick, Sylvian's voice is always very prominent; it's like he's whispering in your ear whilst you sit next to him on a cold park bench. The orchestration is sparse, but bloody intimate, giving the feeling of a chamber orchestra at times. The music is beautifully paced, (okay that's a crap word to use in describing the tempo, what I was trying to say was that it held this listener's attention despite it moving at a funereal speed at times), and there is a winter-day stillness to the work that makes it perfect music for lounging around, and contemplating life at a distance.
Other highlights are the remix of "Late Night Shopping" by Burnt Friedman, and "The Only Daughter" remixed by Jan Bang and Erik Honore which, with the brooding vocal delivery and menacing orchestration completely lost itself in "Tilt" era Scott Walker territory. This is a record that, despite it's creation by the most cosmopolitan set of cooks you could wish for, has a very Northern European feeling of ennui and introspection. The artwork doesnt help in alleviating this feeling; Mr Sylvian is portrayed (quite beautifully in pencil, by the way), as assertively Scandinavian, all piercing eyes and blond hair. The little drawing of him pushing a shopping trolley through pine woods should, for you, the reader, conjour up images of the music contained on this CD far more effectively than my lamentable scribbling. And if you find that image amenable and arresting then I suggest you investigate further.
Words : Richard Foster