England - Full Moon 31 - 04/30/99|
Dead Bees On A Cake
It's taken some time, but David Sylvian is finally back with a new album.
His last proper solo album was released way back in 1987, if you can believe
that. Well, there was that collaboration with Robert Fripp in '92-'93, but
that was more Fripp than Sylvian anyway.
I had to look at one of my old Japan LPs, and compare the photos on the
cover to the portraits inside the cover of Dead Bees On A Cake. Okay,
I know it's been almost 20 years since Sylvian was a pop star, but still -
you'd think there would be at least some resemblance between the two. No
And so it is with the music. David Sylvian's solo albums are so far
removed from the synth-pop of Japan, that trying to compare the two is like
the classic case of apples and oranges.
In contrast to the rather disgusting title, the music served on this disc
is a collection of mostly warm, soothing sounds, with Sylvian's voice out
front - like balm for tired ears. From soft ballads to slow blues to waves
of sounds that seem to come out of nowhere, with a range of instruments
that go past our preconceived ideas of what popular music should sound
like. A song like Krishna Blue, for example, with tablas and other
Indian instruments. Or how about The Shining of Things, with it's
beautiful string quartet? Midnight Sun skillfully mixes John Lee
Hooker samples with guitars, keyboards and a brass arrangement - making for
an innovative an dark sounding twist on the blues.
Of the musicians on Dead Bees On A Cake, Steve Jansen is a familiar
name to those aware of Sylvian's days with Japan. The drummer does
mostly percussion on this album, so don't expect any of his trademark rhythms.
Other musicians include guitarists Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell and Ryuichi Sakamoto on Rhodes piano. Sakamoto also did the string and brass arrangements
for the album. Also featured is the beautiful voice of David Sylvian's wife,
Ingrid Chavez, who as some might know has previously graced the music of
Prince (Or whatver he calls himself these days).
With 14 songs, there's a lot of beautiful music to listen to. I only hope
it won't take so long before we hear from David Sylvian again.
Copyright © 1999 Kentil'zha