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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime and beautiful
I'll keep this short. This album compares extremely favourably with the very best of David Sylvian's work; I know that some will feel that this could even be his best. And they could be right.
Beautiful and haunting, sparkling, dark and pristine, heavenly on the ear; melancholic and uplifting both musically and lyrically. (I wish the lyrics were included in...
Published on 24 Jan 2006 by Mr. S

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Drift
In essence this is a disc of two intermingled halves, dependent on the composers/producers. For four of the nine tracks these are Sylvian and his brother Steve Jansen; for the remaining five it is Sylvian with someone called Burnt Friedman. Overall, I give four stars to the former; only three to the latter. However, all the lyrics are by Sylvian, are well-constructed...
Published 1 month ago by Nicholas Casley


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime and beautiful, 24 Jan 2006
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This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
I'll keep this short. This album compares extremely favourably with the very best of David Sylvian's work; I know that some will feel that this could even be his best. And they could be right.
Beautiful and haunting, sparkling, dark and pristine, heavenly on the ear; melancholic and uplifting both musically and lyrically. (I wish the lyrics were included in the cd packaging - some of it verges on the poetic). The production is perfect too.
I have already listened to this album many-a-time and I know that this is one Sylvian album that I will continue to revisit. Yes, it's much more immediate than his recent excursions, and I hope that this album could even introduce him and his collaborators to a new audience, but it wont.
It's a small comfort to know that on this planet of philistines there are still a few alchemists out there who still believe in magic.
That's it. What more do you need to know? Oh yeah, it's cheaper than a Coldplay album, God help us.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back on form and better than ever., 27 Jun 2006
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
Having been disappointed by the Good Son remix album and I was worried that this might also be a case of a lot of less talented people trampling over David's talent, I guess I shouldn't have really worried though as he has always been brilliant at picking collaborators in the past like Jon Hassell, Robert Fripp and Holger Czukay and here he does it again. This music is beatiful and deep, there are no stand out songs because they're all classics. I was a bit unsure about the idea of him working with electonica artist at first but the sound perfectly compliments his voice which is on top form and now I am a total convert, in fact I've even started exploring electronica as a result and bought albums by Boards of Canada and Marconi Union among others! Apparently this is intended to be a one-off record which is a terrible shame as it would be great to hear how Nine Horses would develop and unlike the Good Son shows how working with the right collaborators really adds a lot to his music. Snow Borne Sorrow is definitely David's best album since Secrets of the Beehive.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Snow Borne Sorrow - excellent pop., 30 Oct 2005
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
A tender album with frontman David Sylvian being a wonderfull lyricist, a bard of the 21st. century.
Good catchy pop songs with touches of jazz, electronica and some soul spices.
It is a very thorough production giving space for many well acclaimed musicians to contribute there skills; R. Sakamoto, Arve Henriksen, Theo Travis, Keith Lowe to just mention some, but all are up to that standard.
The lyrics are content, introspective, beautyfull and stirring, and foremost excellent.
A long anticipated album, that rewards richly for the stretch (huge) of many peoples patience.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intangible Imagery, 11 May 2006
By 
W. Masters (Long Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
David Sylvian never ceases to amaze me with his brilliance in compostion and lyrics.

I have to say Serotonin is the best song on this release, however all of them are great pieces of work.

I was concerned about his first release on his new label, it too me a long time to get use to the improvisational creation, but this is very structured and a job to listen. There are some songs that have a huge jazz influence, but on The Day the Earth Stole Heaven I get a sincere folk perspective.

I love this release.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music that drifts through the mist., 20 Nov 2005
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
I'm not as ardent a devotee of Sylvian's work as some of the previous commentators, finding much of his work a bit bland and sterile. The only album of his that I've truly adored is 1987's Secrets of the Beehive, which felt like a complete piece of work, and featured some of his strongest songwriting to date. His last solo offering, Blemish, had some great moments, but for the most part, I just couldn't get past Derek Bailey's awful improvised guitar work or that feeling of meandering excess. Fear that Nine Horses, his new project with Steve Jansen and Burnt Friedman, would be more of the same can be laid to rest during that gorgeous opening track, Wonderful World, which effortlessly blends elements of jazz, pop and ambient trip-hop to sublime effect, capturing a hazy and wavering sense of dulled melancholy that will continue throughout the album.
For me, this is really the best thing Sylvian has done since Beehive, managing to push the musical boundaries in terms of production and arrangement, but also remembering to include some sweet melodies and the occasional hook. It's also an album that holds together exceedingly well, with each of the songs building to a collective momentum, with no sign of filler or fodder getting in the way of the greats... which is really the whole album!! The combination of the different styles works well together, whilst as lead vocalist, Sylvian is at his most resigned, offering up vocals in a combination of dejected mumbles and that mournful croon, whilst the addition of backing vocalist Stina Nordenstam, as well as the usual Sylvian/Jansen collaborators like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Arve Henriksen (amongst others), tip the album off the scales into the realms of the lush, ambient, dream-pop of bands like Cocteau Twins, Sigur Ros and late-period Talk Talk.
Musically, the diverse influences are used well, with Sylvian and co. managing to create music that is atmospheric (building to a mood and sustaining a feeling over generally long five-minute-plus song structures), but is also easy to listen to. As other commentators have noted, Snow Borne Sorrow is great a night-time record, one that captures that feeling of drifting, as all thoughts and feeling blur into a cacophony of noise before we drift off into sleep. It's very much in tune with past Sylvian endeavours, the previously noted Secrets of the Beehive, the good songs off Dead Bees On a Cake, and the songs from Brilliant Trees that drew less on 80's style production and more on free-form jazz (The Ink in the Well and Nostalgia spring to mind, for me). I've heard that it also brings to mind certain elements of the Rain Tree Crow project, though, having never heard that, I can't really comment. Regardless, Snow Borne Sorrow is magnificent stuff... a record that has its own style and creates an atmosphere that is fascinating and ripe for exploration.
As I said before, for me, there are no real "best songs", with the album pretty much flowing comfortably from one song to the next. However, if I was forced to pick favourites for some kind of lush-pop-compilation, then certainly Wonderful World, Darkest Birds, The Banality of Evil and The Librarian would all be potential candidates. Despite its flaws, it would seem that Blemish offered a new turning point for Sylvian... and, with that truculent bombardment of woe and minimalist experimentation out of his system he's been able to return to the great songwriting and performance style of recording that he'd been hinting at for so many years, creating an album that works perfectly from beginning to end, and seems to present yet another (possible) direction for his future career.
The production and overall performance of Nine Horses is excellent, with the keyboards, bass and drums merging perfectly with Friedman's programming and dense "sound-environment" work, whilst those backing vocals from Nordenstam are really just the icing on the cake. If you're a fan of Sylvian's previous work (whether with Japan, Rain Tree Crow, as a solo artist or from various collaborations) then you'll probably have this already. For anyone else, Snow Borne Sorrow offers a set of jazz-tinged ambient pop songs that are sure to appeal to anyone who has heard and appreciated albums like Laughing Stock by Talk Talk, Radiohead's Kid A and Amnesiac albums, Scott Walker's Climate of Hunter, Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, or the work of artists as disparate as Tom Waits and Portishead.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some tracks approach or pass his best work, 6 May 2006
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
Two of my musical heroes (Sylvian and Kate Bush) both released new albums this past year... In their own ways both speak of loss, themes both have visited before, but what a contrast here... Sylvian (in collaborative mode) virtually wallows in his misery, while Bush rejoices in change throughout a day of life (her outstanding cycle "Sky of Honey").

Nonetheless, I would count this Sylvian's most approachable work for a while. Highlights are "Wonderful life," "the banality of evil," "atom and cell" and the last and best track for me, "the librarian." Do I detect some light at the end of the tunnel in this track? Something about its amazing groove is almost optimistic!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars probably Sylvian's best work, 28 April 2006
By 
peter inzane "pete" (inverness, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
This is a wonderfully crafted record that is probably Sylvian's best work. Sylvian's return to form was initiated on his last solo effort - Blemish. But that record was one of challenging the listener - a far less accessible listen than 'Snow Borne Sorrow'.

The album is filled with emotionally charged singing and playing. Sylvian has to be one of the great singers - not technically, but for his delivery, which on this and 'Blemish' is balanced perfectly.

Sylvian does tend to write the occasional duff lyric, but that is often the case with even the best songwriters.

Sylvian is not just a singer, songwriter, but more of a recording architect.
This record was mastered several times by different engineers before it was deemed acceptable. This sort of uncompromising artistry is what personifies this recording. Fine attention to detail and all things perfectly executed - its really hard to find a weakness here - there are no average tracks - a consistently good record from start to finish.
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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NINE HORSES, 2 Oct 2005
By 
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
After the radically stark departure of 'blemish', David Sylvian returns with a more conventional approach to music making in the form of this joint collaboration between he, his brother Steve Jansen, and keyboardist/vibraphonist/remixer Burnt Friedman.
WONDERFUL WORLD - an eerie jazz waltz featuring a vocal duet between Sylvian and Stina Nordenstam. their "she / he" back and forth lyrical scheme gives the song an overall feel somewhat akin to a Broadway musical show tune. Nordenstam sounds like a cross between Rickie Lee Jones and Shelley Duval as Olive Oyl in the movie Popeye. an odd choice to begin the disc,...thankfully, it does not exactly set the tone for what will follow.
DARKEST BIRDS - the "poppiest" track on the disc, with slight elements of electronica and a somewhat heavier kick to the chorus. incongruous trumpet parts are woven in to the tune,
perhaps in an effort to fit in better with the jazzier sound that dominates the rest of the album.
THE BANALITY OF EVIL - a prevalent 5/4 rhythm throughout this track gives it an odd feel that takes some getting used to and Sylvian's polyrhythmic vocal lines may take some time to entirely sink in, but they will with repeated listening. this track has a tone somewhat similar to the work of Peter Gabriel, not only in the rhythm and snaky guitar lines, but in the sinister backing vocals and grunts that appear later in this extended track. the avant guarde horn soloing was an unexpected surprise.
ATOM AND CELL - a slow dirge in 6/8. the sinister backing vocals and polyrhythmic vocal lines from the last track continue here, and even in greater abundance. the horn arrangement, or disarrangement to be more exact, is a nice touch that adds even more confusion to the melancholia and disfunction of this plodding track.
A HISTORY OF HOLES - another track in the odd time signature of five, but this one is straightened out by Sylvian's smooth vocal delivery. the lyrics seem to be a little more biographical than Sylvian is usually willing to offer up, dealing with childhood memories...mostly those he has chosen to block out during most of his adult life. It may take some listens to get the gist of this track, but this one is a gem.
SNOW BORNE SORROW - the harsh electronic sound of "blemish" (as well as the collaboration with Fennesz titled 'Transit') makes a brief appearance during the introduction of this track. then it smooths out into yet another 6/8 rhythm. Ryuichi Sakamoto contributes a notable cameo on piano and there is some fine string quartet orchestration, but this title track meanders a little too long on a very thin and repetitive vocal line.
THE DAY THE EARTH STOLE HEAVEN - a folk/jazz hybrid that reveals itself to be the highlight of the entire cd. Sylvian's voice is in such fine form on this and one could be of the opinion that he hasn't sung this well for more than a decade...definitely the track contains his strongest vocals of this new century. guitarist Tim Motzer composed the music and Sylvian's melody is the most focused of all the selections. a perfect collaboration.
SEROTONIN - hey, who let Japan in? this track could serve as the modern day equivalent of Sylvian's former band circa 79-80. the initial reaction is joyful surprise, but then the intrigue quickly gives way to boredom and tedium. "oh dear oh me oh my" indeed. this track should have languished on the cutting room floor.
THE LIBRARIAN - a fleshed out version of the Friedman/Liebezeit/Sylvian track released earlier this year. it now has more of a pronounced groove due to the addition of drums and syncopated guitar riffs. the greater use of vibraphone is similar to vibemaster Gary Burton's contributions on Bruce Cockburn's 'The Charity Of Night', and really adds an excellent texture to the song. yet there may be a little too much going on when compared to the original take and the clutter of the additional instruments may have now taken away from the subtlety of Sylvian's delicate vocal delivery. but the song is still one of the stronger tunes on the disc.
Other contributors to Nine Horses not mentioned above include Arve Henriksen on trumpet, Keith Lowe and Dan Schroeter on bass, Hayden Chisholm on sax and clarinet, Theo Travis on sax and flute and Morten Gronvad on vibraphone.
This disc has been anticipated for nearly four years and it definitely delivers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ....perfection???, 8 Dec 2005
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
This release from Mr Sylvian and friends is remarkable, it explores every human emotion and tingles every nerve ending like no other CD I have heard for quite some time now. It sets a new benchmark....believe me, this release has everything! Perfection....???...it is close, very close.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's been a long time coming, but worth it..., 3 Nov 2005
By 
DBT "dt" (God's Own County) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Snow Borne Sorrow (Audio CD)
Having been a huge fan of Sylvians through the eighties and early nineties, I have found his subsequent work increasingly obscure, inaccessible and frustrating; culminating in the aural pap that was 'Blemish'. I resigned myself to the fact that my love affair with Sylvian was over and prepared to move on, alone, into a world populated with popularism.
Oh joy; he's back. This is a staggering return to form. For anyone out there who remembers 'Secrets of the Beehive' or 'Gone to Earth' the news is good. Songs are back, instrumentation is tight and well crafted and with this offering, I get the sense that Sylvian is offering work to his fans, for his fans, rather than the introspective twiddlings and sparsities which have typified his more recent work. In a current landscape that celebrates the banal, the fast buck, the one shot in the dark and subsequent obscurity, this is a Mecca of a recording; something I have had a secret hope and longing for which, against all odds, has materialised.
I won't go on about each song, draw idle comparisons, wax too lyrically over each tone and nuance: all I will say is that if you remember Sylvian, and remember all you thought he stood for which was lost along the way, this is an absolute must for you. God, it's beautiful... It's been a long time coming, but worth it...
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