David Sylvian

  • May 8, 2018

David Sylvian is an English singer-songwriter and musician who came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead vocalist and main songwriter in the group Japan. Sylvian’s subsequent solo work encompassed solo projects and a series of fascinating collaborative efforts. Sylvian’s solo work has been influenced by a variety of musical styles and genres, including jazz, avant-garde, ambient, electronic, and progressive rock.

On his solo records of the ’80s, David Sylvian’s explorations in music took him from the pop-funk, stylish jazz and windswept exotica of 1984’s Brilliant Trees; the ambient landscapes and epic ballads of 1985’s Gone to Earth; and the romantic orchestrations of 1987’s Secrets of the Beehive. His collaborators included leaders of progressive music, from jazz artists such as Mark Isham, John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler to the rock and fusion guitarists Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson, Michael Brook, and David Torn. All three of the above albums married strong melodies to intricate atmospheres and several tracks from each are featured in this playlist.

In the early ’90s, Sylvian embarked on a series of acclaimed tours with Robert Fripp, leading to their 1993 studio release The First Day from which the song Firepower is taken for this playlist. And 1991 saw the release of Rain Tree Crow, a Japan reunion under a different name, represented here with sensuous track Blackwater. 1999’s Dead Bees on a Cake, as seductive yet eclectic as any of his prior work, includes the hit single I Surrender featured here as well, where Sylvian crafts an achingly ear-pleasing vessel for his spiritual journey. Immediately following Dead Bees on a Cake, Sylvian also released a retrospective of his work titled Everything and Nothing, a re-arrangement and re-evaluation of his career dating back to Japan. Two songs culled from that compilation are included here: Ride — an outtake from the Secrets of The Beehive sessions featuring an arrangement by Ryuichi Sakamoto, the trumpet of Mark Isham, and guitarist David Torn; and The Scent of Magnolia, an outtake from the Dead Bees On A Cake sessions.

In 2005 Sylvian collaborated with his brother Steve Jansen and composer/percussionist Burnt Friedman forming the group Nine Horses and released an album titled Snow Borne Sorrow from which several tracks are culled for this playlist.

Just set yourself down, kick back, close your eyes and enjoy the sensuous phrasings of one of the most scintillating vocalists of the Age.

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