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A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 Double CD

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Image of album by David Sylvian


Image of David Sylvian


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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A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 + The Very Best Of Japan + Tin Drum
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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Feb. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: Virgin Catalogue
  • ASIN: B006TX276C
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,959 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Ghosts
2. Bamboo Houses
3. Bamboo Music
4. Forbidden Colours
5. Red Guitar
6. The Ink In The Well
7. Pulling Punches
8. Taking The Veil
9. Silver Moon
10. Let The Happiness In
See all 16 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Jean The Birdman
2. Alphabet Angel
3. I Surrender
4. Darkest Dreaming
5. A Fire In The Forest
6. The Only Daughter
7. Late Night Shopping
8. Wonderful World
9. The Banality Of Evil
10. Darkest Birds
See all 15 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Product Description

A Victim of Stars picks the best from David Sylvian's 30-year musical career, from '80s pop-funk via jazz in the 90s to the 2000s leaning to electronica. This compilation of the former Japan front man's greatest hits also includes a newly recorded single, "Where's Your Gravity?".

BBC Review

Scott Walker and Mike Patton aside, was there ever a Top of the Pops regular as thrillingly un-pop as David Sylvian? Even the fact he ended up there seems almost accidental; after all, when Japan emerged at the height of punk, they were all high art and preposterous glamour – a kind of Proxy Music, if you will, with the erstwhile Mr Batt as their Ferry-cum-Bowie – and if New Romantic hadn't happened they'd've been little more than a cultish footnote.

Not, mind you, that that would've stopped Sylvian ploughing the furrow spotlit by this retrospective, since him claiming to be captain commerciality would've been spurious at best. Take the opener here, Japan's ostensible swansong and zenith Ghosts: even in the eclectic landscape of 1982, its melancholic miasma, arcane synthalia and otherly distress calls made it a striking top five hit, while heard again here it might as well be from another universe to anything that's passed for pop in years. Indeed, as CD one here illustrates magnificently, he'd enjoy continued popular success with numerous aloof, oblique records that skipped unsettlingly between several overlapping melodies, the lachrymosely filmic Forbidden Colours being the most celebrated, with the puzzling Red Guitar remaining a standout.

In fact, it was only when he actually did start borrowing from the zeitgeist, all none-more-80s sax and Pino Palladino-style basslines, that he began to suffer, leading to the genuinely futurist and liberatingly atonal Pop Song, after which cavalierness sets thoroughly in, as dramatically showcased on the second disc, where we get toes dipped in improv waters, the deliciously unwieldy glory of The Banality of Evil, the 10-years-early invention of James Blake (hello, A Fire in the Forest!) and his adieu to top 40 life I Surrender, which is a nine-minute slice of Sade-ian sophisti-pop with separate flute and trumpet solos taken from the album Dead Bees on a Cake. It would be, wouldn't it?

Yes, it's a ridiculous, sometimes patchy affair, but that feels entirely apposite. After all, this is Exhibits A through Z and beyond in the case for Sylvian as practically the male Kate Bush, and, amid the rampant self-satisfaction evidenced by the BRIT Awards, it's a timely reminder that, at its best, the mainstream's been able to accommodate many kinds of magic.

--Iain Moffatt

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. 880 on 5 Mar. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have to agree with several points made in some of the earlier reviews, being rather late to the party in discovering this particular compilation. David Sylvian is a massive talent who deserves a wider audience, but I find this compilation not to be the best introduction to the man and his work. I much prefer 'Everything and Nothing' (2000) as a primer. Things get off to a wobbly start with the inclusion of David's needless reworking of Japan's 'Ghosts'. The remix presented here (also to be found on 'Everything and Nothing' sadly), is robbed of all majesty and mystery by missing off the intro and sees David try and go all Maria Carey on the vocals of the last chorus. Horrible, and possibly the most underwhelming start to an album I have heard! I suspect that copyright issues prevent us from hearing the original soundtrack version of 'Forbidden Colours', but the inclusion of the alternative version that concluded the 'Secrets of the Beehive' album so early on in this compilation practically brings things to a juddering halt. Its a lovely version in the right place and a fitting coda to the overall mood of 'Beehive', but is too sombre placed where it is on this album. How much better it would have been if they put it after 'Waterfront' (also on this compilation), the track which is its natural predecessor on 'Beehive'. Also, it would have been great if we could have had one of Sylvian's best recent collaborations, 'Linoleum' by Tweaker included. Again, I suspect copyright or whatever put the kybosh on that. I would have also welcomed the odd B-side such as 'Les Fleurs des Mal' from the 'Dead Bees on a Cake' period sung by his then-wife Ingrid Chavez (she pops up here on 'Heartbeat', of course), or an edit of one of his ambient pieces, such as 'Steel Cathedrals'.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Milo di Thernan on 15 Aug. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Heartache occasionally overwhelmed me when I was young, for the usual reasons. Overcome by the sudden stop which the loss of her forced on me, nothing could address the torpor. David Sylvian's Brilliant Trees album came to dwell there with me, offering company, not advice. His music did not provide a way out, but a way in, to the recesses of bleak sadness. Gently leading you through the cavernous depths of your stasis, it helped you feel sorry for yourself with a thoroughness that was calm, not angry. Since calmness listens, while anger transmits, a single epiphany resulted: you were no longer alone. And once your heart experienced the constructive epiphany of companionship, even the remote kind provided by a stranger's songs, a light went on; you began to query the possibility of a way out. We are all carpet crawlers; we all have to get in to get out. 25 years on, with substantial emotional success in the bag, I chanced upon this album and listened to it in the car and was powerfully reminded of the acute sensitivity of my pain, something vital, which made me smile. Brilliant Trees gave me more insight into how I felt than anything I've chanced upon since, helping my heart to acknowledge, which then invited my head to explore, so buy that album first. But buy this one too, for Forbidden Colours, an old friend, and the lyrics on Orpheus, a fresh acquaintance. These fires never stop.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 17 Mar. 2012
Format: Audio CD
I did wonder if 'A Victim of Stars' was really necessary given that 10 tracks previously featured on 2000's compilation 'Everything and Nothing' , 'Wonderful World' was also compiled on the brilliant 'Sleepwalkers'-compilation, and there's only one new song (the rather excellent 'Where's Your Gravity?'). But I couldn't resist this compilation when I saw the cover featuring a brilliant photo of DS at the height of his beauty taken by former partner and long-term associate Yuka Fujii...

Perhaps it was the disappointment of Sylvian cancelling his 'Implausible Beauty' tour due to health reasons, so this compilation a surrogate for that lacking - though I doubt he'd have played much of disc one with the projected tour being played by jazz/classical/improv sorts with various electronics. I think it would have been more like the 'Blemish' tour; since its release I've been playing this lots and pretty bowled over.

The second disc is probably more impressive - especially the material from 'Died in the Wool' which improves on the 'Manafon'-originals ('Snow White in Appalachia' the sole track from 'Manafon') and a sublime take on an Emily Dickinson poem, 'I Should Not Dare.' I was expecting that to be like another E.D. poem Sylvian adapted, 'A Certain Slant of Light', which was spoken word and close to the earlier 'Thoroughly Lost to Logic', but instead Sylvian has added a gorgeous blend of classical and electronic music and a wonderful vocal. Anyone who says D.S. sounds like he's singing a phonebook should listen to this track...

There are three songs from Nine Horses' 'Snow Borne Sorrow' which was the most commercial L.P. Sylvian recorded since 'Brilliant Trees' - nice to see Sylvian collaborate with Steve Jansen (& I hope they play together again in the near future).
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