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Alchemy - An Index Of Possibilities (Digipak) [Limited Edition, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Special Edition]

David Sylvian Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: £14.99
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The David Sylvian that fronted new wave pop band Japan wore luminescent hair and glam make-up; on the cover of his solo debut, 1984's Brilliant Trees, he was stylish and refined, a gentleman popster. But the illustration that introduces 2003's Blemish sends a different message: he's bedraggled and unshaven, his far-off expression turned haunted. The new millennium has seen a more ... Read more in Amazon's David Sylvian Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Alchemy - An Index Of Possibilities (Digipak) + Secrets Of The Beehive + Gone To Earth
Price For All Three: £28.15

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  • Secrets Of The Beehive £4.73
  • Gone To Earth £8.43

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Sep 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Limited Edition, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Special Edition
  • Label: Virgin
  • ASIN: B0000AQOQV
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 303,903 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Words With The Shaman - Part 1 (Ancient Evening)
2. Words With The Shaman - Part 2 (Incantation)
3. Words With The Shaman - Part 3 (Awakening (Songs From The Treetops))
4. Preparations For A Journey
5. The Stigma Of Childhood (Kin)
6. A Brief Conversation Ending In Divorce
7. Steel Cathedrals

Product Description

DAVID SYLVIAN Alchemy An Index Of Possibilities (2003 UK digitally remastered 7-track CD album housed in a tri-fold digipak sleeve superb mini-album that comrpises the Words With The Shaman EP two tracks from the Steel Cathedrals video and two rare b-sides from the stand alone Pop Song single. The sleeve shows only very minor wear and the disc looks barely played)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1985's directions in music... 28 May 2006
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This reissue of 'Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities' is a thoughtful one- comprising the original 1985 tape-only release that saw tracks 'Preperation for a Journey' & 'Steel Cathedrals' released alongside the 'Words with the Shaman' e.p. with the hard to find b-sides to 1989's 'Pop Song' single (found on the deleted 'Weatherbox' set). Much of the work here appeared in some form on the 'Camphor' compilation a few years ago...

As a collection of Sylvian's instrumental work, it blends together very well- though anyone who didn't enjoy his other instrumental work (the Czukay albums 'Flux&Mutability'/'Plight&Premonition', the last sides of 'Gone to Earth') may not be that enamoured.

The three-part 'Words With the Shaman'-suite is particularly wonderful- 'Part1: Ancient Evening', 'Part 2: Incantation' & 'Part 3: Awakening (Songs from the Tree Tops)' find Sylvian and brother Jansen advancing on the 'Brilliant Trees' collaboration with Holger Czuckay ('Full Circle' with Liebzeit & Wobble) and Jon Hassell ('Power Spot'). If played directly after listening to Hassell/Sylvian's co-written song 'Brilliant Trees', it makes complete sense. 'Words with the Shaman' is as strong as Eno/Byrne's 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' or Philip Glass' 'Powaqqatsi'. 'Preparation for a Journey' & 'Steel Cathedrals' extend on this, but have been seen by many people as I know as extremly indulgent- personally I think they've dated well and are in need of reassessment. These tracks aren't that far from Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Peter Gabriel's artier work (e.g the 'Birdy' soundtrack) and can be seen to extend on the territory started with tracks like 'A Foreign Place' and 'Canton.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, evocative, meditative 22 Sep 2006
Format:Audio CD
How do you classify or put into words music that you can connect to physically and mentally rather than just audibly.Like nothing else I have heard, this album literally takes you to higher state of consciousness, relaxation and wellbeing, keeping you completely engaged and enthralled whilst leading you on a spiritual journey, or more, a path of self discovery! I bought the cassette tape in 1985 and after finally getting hold of the CD 20 years later I realised that this album is not just a part of my collection but more a part of me. I cannot rate this album highly enough. If you have ever truly 'contemplated' anything in life then this music is for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inner World Music 7 Jan 2004
Format:Audio CD
A head spinning drift through the gamelan jungle. Very cinematic, smoky and evocative (as all of Sylvian's work is). Not for casual listeners, but of a quality that puts it way above nearly all other so called ambient productions.
Highly recommended if you fancy a bit of armchair travel.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting collection of instrumentals. 25 July 2003
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This reissue of Alchemy is a thoughtful one- comprising the original 1985 tape-only release that saw tracks Preperation for a Journey & Steel Cathedrals released alongside the Words with the Shaman ep with the hard to find b-sides to 1989's Pop Song single (found on the deleted Weatherbox set). As a collection of Sylvian's instrumental work, it blends together very well- though anyone who didn't enjoy his other instrumental work (the Czuckay albums Flux&Mutability/Plight&Premonition, the last sides of Gone to Earth) may not be that enamoured.
The three-part Words With the Shaman-suite is particularly wonderful- Part1: Ancient Evening, Part 2: Incantation & Part 3: Awakening (Songs from the Tree Tops) find Sylvian and brother Jansen advancing on the Brilliant Trees collaboration with Holger Czuckay and Jon Hassell. If played directly after listening to Hassell/Sylvian's co-written song Brilliant Trees, it makes complete sense. Words with the Shaman is as strong as Eno/Byrne's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts or Philip Glass' Powaqqatsi. Preperation for a Journey & Steel Cathedrals extend on this, but have been seen by many people as I know as extremly indulgent- personally I think they've dated well and are in need of reassessment. It's nice to hear a blend of ambient, world music and jazz coming together- could this be a post-Eno Filles De Kilimanjaro?
Pop Song eventually turned up on 2000's compilation Everything&Nothing- it's b-sides were harder to find; it seems apt that they are added to this set (perhaps Flux and Plight ought to be reissued as a double-set?). These tracks were a lot more influenced by John Cage- A Brief Conversation in Divorce reminding you of Cage's Sonatas&Interludes, as well as 1981's Ghosts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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.
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