It's not hard to see why Japan/Sylvian fans have a tough time with the band/artist's previous record companies. The compilations of various kinds have been racking up over the years and just when you thought there couldn't be anything more to say, here comes A Victim of Stars put out through Virgin. Reviews are right, that it's a pretty decent primer for any introduction to Sylvian; though if you haven't been introduced to his music by now you're pretty late to the party and some will complain this all sounds either dated or wilfully ambient! Nevertheless, the "new" track accompanying this collection, Where's Your Gravity?, manages to bridge some of the atmospheric brilliance of Japan's later songs with echoes of Sylvian's own work stretching across nearly thirty years. But one reviewer is right, Ghosts and Forbidden Colours don't need to be off the Everything and Nothing compilation surely when the originals (and especially the Tin Drum version of Ghosts which mysteriously seems to have been the poor relation of the single/remix effort for years and yet is far superior) could be worked into this record if we have to be reminded of Japan in the former song's case.
Small Metal Gods and Manafon add a bit of clarity to the later work and update the story, though they are some lonely highlights to what have been indifferent records recently. Listeners will also wonder how remixed Bamboo Houses actually is while the album version of Heartbeat I happen to like more though this restrained remix is okay too. That aside, Sylvian's dedication to the style and mastery of his music shines through here. If you listen and keep doing so, you realise how little the music has dated and also how "un-ambient" it can be at times; a testament to the quality of the textures and sound-scapes that he's played around with for so many years. Indeed if you were uninitiated you might wonder which was the older and newer stuff here, possibly confused by what other reviewers have rightly stated is still a rough and ready transfer of the music. A serious bit of remastering surely needs to be done with tracks that Virgin have frankly treated with a slap-dash attitude over the years. And even the cover and inside pictures date the work in Virgin's eyes which, despite quite sturdy packaging, make this look like a bit of a cashing-in exercise. Even so, the fact that the record has made the album charts at all, reflects the loyalty of Sylvian's fans and the respect he's held in by many. The record is a triumph of sorts then: reflecting a history where he's been determined to plot his own course; demanding concentration from the listener; and repaying your attention with serious, but rewarding sounds, emotions and beauty. David Sylvian sounds about as far out of place in modern rock/pop music (I know he wouldn't see himself in that branch anyway!) as you can get, and no bad thing it is. Recommended, especially for the relative newcomer, but with reservations.