This 48-minute long CD comprises a selection of tracks recorded between 1984 and 1989. They are all instrumentals with any vocal element being embedded within the radio extracts and/or tapes that occasionally form a stratum within the particular track's texture. This texture consists of what I would call layers of meditation: each is nothing special and yet each second of their presence is uniquely special. Is this music of escape or of actuality? The music, whilst mainly inherently adopting a groundwork of western electronic and acoustic instruments and musical forms, is nevertheless infused with a wide variety of traditional elements from many parts of the globe: from the Far East, Black Africa, even the American mid-west.
There are, in effect, seven tracks on the disc. Some are co-written or co-performed with Sylvian stalwarts such as Steve Jansen, Holger Czukay, Robert Fripp, and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Steve Nye is also involved with some of the production. There are a couple of disappointments: `Preparations for a Journey', written and performed by Sylvian alone, sounds very much like music Vangelis was making ten years' earlier; whilst `A Brief Conversation Ending in Divorce' produces an effect exactly in tune (or rather, not in tune) with what the title suggests. But `The Stigma of Childhood' is a haunting depiction of empty spaces, and the segue between the tracks `Ancient Evening' and `Incantation' features a marvellous rhythmic transition from a syncopated beat to something more four-square. `Steel Cathedrals' reminded me of distantly-viewed high-speed trains screaming through the landscape, but I do non think Eurostar will be adopting it soon as their call-signal!
Instead of retreating into the easy world of pop pap that David Sylvian could so easily have done in the mid- to late-1980s and making himself an awful lot of money along the way, I give full marks to this artist for exploring a radically different and interesting soundworld.