Review of "There's a Light..."

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Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby missouriman on Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:51 am

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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby Quiet Visitor on Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:38 pm

Wow, you can't say Dave - the reviewer - made it easy for himself. I think it's a brave review, but also one that makes you want to listen to the album again, which is always a good sign for me.
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby inkinthewell on Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:08 pm

Dave The Reviewer wrote:This is music that breathes with decaying lungs; and this is what the cover reminds me of – those wintery branches look like an x-ray of human lungs, as much as fulfilling any visualisation of the title "Kindertotenwald".


How true!
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby inkinthewell on Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:26 pm

I'm not sure who is the author of this, but it was posted on the David Sylvian Biography Facebook page:

THE FARTHEST PLACE: While I don’t consider my views to be any more valid than anyone elses, here are some thoughts on the debate centred on David Sylvian’s new release “there’s a light that enters houses with no other house in sight”.

I would like to dwell less on the music itself, and more on the “direction” that David seems to be taking. After all, this is what has provoked most debate among David’s legion of followers, and which has as usual divided opinion.

The music itself is — as so often — thought provoking, and as with some more recent works, not necessarily immediately accessible. But as with ALL David’s more challenging works, it does benefit from a close listen, is full of subtleties, and is undoubtedly born from a profound belief by David himself in its merit.

But inevitably, the release has precipitated the age-old debate among devotees of David’s music. There are those willing to give the work a chance, try and understand its context, what it is trying to communicate and how. There are others who seem tired of this constant experimentation, and want a return to the days when David produced accessible melodic ballads.

Neither is right, neither is wrong, because it is not compulsory to like David Sylvian’s music. It is perfectly reasonable to like David’s older more conventional songs more than his experimental music, just as it is reasonable to be seduced by the avant-garde offerings and become tired of older songs.

And here we come to the nub of the issue with Sylvian. There are musicians that know what their audience responds to en masse, and so they cater for this demand, and churn out the same type of music year in year out. Here the audience dictates the direction the artist takes, and the music reflects a formula that works for the listener and the artist's bank balance.

There are other musicians — and history shows Sylvian most definitely to be one of these — that plough their own furrow, maintain a steely determination to compose on merit, compose in a way that is true to their own convictions.

These convictions may not always be well placed, they most certainly may not always appeal to an ever evolving (and probably ever diminishing) fan base, and they may not be immediately understood in the way that the artist expects. But the determination to keep on going, push the boundaries of the conventional, move to the periphery of accepted musical norms is in itself a fascinating decision for any artist to make, and I would suggest is in fact “needed” to allow the art form to move on and develop.

Who is to say that David’s more recent experimental offerings will not be seen as mainstream and dated in 50 years. What I think is so important, however, is that musical and artistic pioneers must persist, because without them, art would become stultified.

Consider something else. David Sylvian is a musician. His music is on the one hand his means of artistic expression, and on the other his way of making a living. Back in the day he turned his back on the potential riches that exist around the popular music scene as he split from Japan and went solo. He has remained true to this resolve, artistic relevance as opposed to the securing of large royalty cheques.

So when he produces another experimental work, he is taking a big risk. He could be producing work that totally alienates his existing audience and fails to attract new followers, and therein would lurk financial ruin. When people ask why Sylvian doesn’t produce Secrets of the Beehive 2, look at it from his perspective. If he did, he would be sure of considerable sales. But he chooses not to, not because he is perverse, and not because he has no regard for his audience, but because he is being true to himself and producing music that he feels has merit.

Audiences are not static. They evolve. Many people will not take the journey and follow an artist from day one of their career to the end. Some may gain enormous satisfaction from David’s work in the 1980s, and that is great. If more recent works don’t appeal, then stay with what works. What would perhaps be unreasonable, and what would ultimately make life stale for audience and artist alike is if Sylvian was expected to rehash tried and tested music that had mass appeal year in year out. That music exists in his back catalogue, and it always will.

But there is something transfixing and musically stimulating about seeing an artist develop, knock down walls, overcome and blast through convention, and produce a new language, perhaps planting seeds for future musical evolution for many musicians to come.

In the new biography “On the Periphery”, Sylvian gives his view of Manafon which many saw as difficult to embrace. He shows his views of experimentation and non-mainstream composing. He also tantalises with suggestions as to future directions.

“Manafon doesn’t sound wildly experimental to my ears. Nor do I personally hear it as being a difficult album, but I’ve always known the experience would be different for others. Time will soften the edges. It may sow the seeds of what might develop into a new genre for vocal music perhaps? Or maybe it’s simply a passing glitch on the digital face of popular music. I don’t know. But what I am sure of is that, over time, its abstractions will become much easier to embrace. After all, Debussy was considered impossibly avant-garde in his time. It’s hard to credit such a response to his music today. Similarly, Brahms piano concerto No. 1 was reviewed in its day as ‘noise’. We need to grow into modern work. We shouldn’t ask that things be made too easy for us It should be remembered that to be challenged is something of a gift if the work truly has something new to offer, a fresh perspective or experiences. Having said that, I haven’t abandoned form entirely. I may make a return to it at some point. For now I’m leaving all possibilities open.”
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby svendutchmountains on Sat Nov 01, 2014 8:35 pm

AWESOME review. I wish I could be that eloquent!
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby Quiet Visitor on Sun Nov 02, 2014 9:14 am

inkinthewell wrote:I'm not sure who is the author of this, but it was posted on the David Sylvian Biography Facebook page:

I guess it's Chris Young himself.
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby inkinthewell on Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:35 pm

Quiet Visitor wrote:I guess it's Chris Young himself.

I was just hoping it wasn't him because, knowing, as we all do, that David Sylvian was not interviewed by Chris for his book, if he writes "In the new biography “On the Periphery”, Sylvian gives his view of Manafon", that's a tad deceitful.
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby Quiet Visitor on Mon Nov 03, 2014 2:57 pm

inkinthewell wrote:
Quiet Visitor wrote:I guess it's Chris Young himself.

I was just hoping it wasn't him because, knowing, as we all do, that David Sylvian was not interviewed by Chris for his book, if he writes "In the new biography “On the Periphery”, Sylvian gives his view of Manafon", that's a tad deceitful.


I know what you mean, but as far as I can see the biography-site is his, so it's more or less logical he promotes his own book in this review.
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby natsume on Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:28 pm

Funny. Didn't get into Manafon at all, really, except liked and still like SMG. Bought it, took a listen, and filed it away.

Just gave it another spin, five years on, and I "get" it. This is work that one really needs to "be in the mood" for, I guess I am finally in a receptive space for this. I never hated it, and didn't feel compelled to be a detractor, as I still support whatever he does, it just did nothing for me at the time of release. It suddenly sounds compelling and interesting to me.

(Still, I am hoping for the Sylvian/Wasserman album, or Nine Horses 2! Not for SOTB 2!!)
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Re: Review of "There's a Light..."

Postby javier on Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:40 am

Extraordinary review of an extraordinary piece of music.
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