A long time fan of Mr Sylvian, the owner of possibly one of the most beautiful and affecting voices, many of his albums are right up there with my long terms favourite recordings – Gone to Earth, Dead Bees on a Cake, the Nine Horses output and the Robert Fripp collaboration
I still get excited by the news of a new release but latterly I have to be more circumspect about my enthusiasm. Not because he isn’t still in fine voice and clearly immensely able and talented but albums like Blemish don’t swing it for me – too raw and personal, I feel like some sort of voyeur into a hideously painful episode of his life. Added to this the super minimal quality, the merest fragments of melody make the tracks both hard work and difficult to reward with multiple listens.
Aware that his personal life has been taking continued hits, the announcement of his new album Manafon means that I wonder if the bitterness and hurt shown through the Nine Horses project, beautiful and listenable though it was, is still there to the fore. All the signs from the limited listening available are that yes, and perhaps more exposed than ever, together with the fact that the music is back to the bare, minimal style that I find so hard to warm to. I appreciate that artists, especially those with a capital ‘A’ (much like Scott Walker and his recent projects) will want to push their music, stretch the boundaries, it s just that sometime it makes it wretchedly hard to travel with them. I find myself yearning for the richness and complexity of past music, the high quality playing, the fabulous vocals, I don’t mind if the subject matter is either opaque or transparently harsh but I need something to hook onto, something I can return to without feeling either stupid that I don’t ‘get it’ or aurally brutalised.
No doubt I will gather the album in, but I do hope that his life picks up soon, a spot of happiness wouldn’t go amiss now and then, give us something to transcend the greyness of our daily lives. It doesn’t have to be happy clappy but maybe something with depth, richness, something that rewards the listener. Maybe its just me…
Well here are two vids from past days, Darkest Dreaming and the utterly sublime Orpheus
David Sylvian website
Manafon website for samples and explanations