on 25 February 2004
Being the follow-up to a critically acclaimed début solo album was never going too be easy, not only did Mr Sylvain rise to the challenge he took the big risk and released a double album.
One disc of 7 vocal tracks, and the other disc a selection of 10 ambient instrumentals this was the form that the album took when originally released on cassette and vinyl.
But when this album was issued originally on C.D. only all the vocal tracks and some of the instrumental tracks were issued on the C.D.
Up until now the only available way to get all the tracks on C.D. was on the "Weather box" box set.
For me this is one of my favourite albums by Sylvain this is because of the superb guitar work of Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson and B.J. Cole on pedal steel guitar.
These musicians really come to the fore on the second disc of this set adding texture, space and atmosphere to the pieces.
Now with this re-issue not only have all the tracks been restored the sound quality has been improved greatly by the excellent renovation work of Tony Cousins at "Metropolis" and added bonus tracks have been added to the first disc of the set.
A feature to notice on this disc is that there is a small gap of time before the bonus tracks start. I think this is to give the listener an impression of how the original album sounded before the addition of the extra tracks.
For my own personal taste I would have preferred the extra tracks not to be included but to be on a separate disc all together, but that's a minor point.
The improvement in sound quality and presentation more than make up for any personal quibble I may have with this re-issue.
Another feature of note is the packaging, now the album is in an 8-panel digi-pak sleeve and the credits for the album now come on the back of a fold-out poster booklet.
David himself has supervised all the redesigning of the artwork, with the assistance of long-time Sylvain photographer Yuka Fujii.
This for me was a must "have" in my music collection.
David Sylvian was clearly unhappy with the teenybop audience he found in the later years of Japan and tags like `the most beautiful man in the world.' Relationships in Japan became problematic, Sylvian was rumoured to have taken up with Mick Karn's girlfriend and was tiring of the band format - Japan having lost guitarist Rob Dean and Sylvian composing bandless-songs like "Ghosts" and "Nightporter." After a few singles with Yellow Magic Orchestra's Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sylvian experimented and eventually released Brilliant Trees that remains a watershed. 1985 saw him advance the ambient-directions of that record with Steve Jansen, Holger Czukay & Jon Hassell (this work is collected on Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities). Gone to Earth was the swift follow-up, a double album whose first disc is another seven-track vocal album and whose second disc offers an ambient/instrumental work. This reissue, like the 2003-reissue replaces the dubious one-disc version released before.
The album, whose title must emanate from the Powell/Pressburger film of the same name (was that from a novel?), found Sylvian collaborating with a group of revered musicians including Robert Fripp, Philip Palmer, B.J. Cole, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, and Bill Nelson. Observant souls will note that brother Jansen is present, as well as another former member of Japan, Richard Barbieri. In the next year, Barbieri, Jansen and Sylvian would all work with Mick Karn on the Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters album. The album as a whole feels like an advance on the climes of Brilliant Trees and is a record that sounds like a blend of Eno's On Land, Miles Davis' In a Silent Way, Scott Walker's Scott 4, and Robert Wyatt's Ruth is Stranger Than Richard. In 1980s terms it belongs to a group of albums that include Harold Budd's Lovely Thunder, Budd-Fraser-Guthrie-Raymonde's The Moon and the Melodies, Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden, and The Blue Nile's A Walk Across the Rooftops. It is perhaps an overblown, over-ambitious album, but one I still listen to after all these years...
The first disc of songs begins and ends on the two singles released, "Taking the Veil" and "Silver Moon". Ironically, these are the least successful tracks - the former is a wonderful guitar-driven slice of ambience, but there's not much in terms of a song. "Silver Moon" just doesn't gel for me either, it sounds like it's going to come to life, perhaps as a relative/progression of "Red Guitar" but it just feels a bit formless. Like Sylvian wanted to be Bryan Ferry but felt more Brian Eno; it's not helped by the presence of B.J. Cole, which just makes you think of The Walker Brothers' "No Regrets" - which wipes the floor with it! The rest is far greater - "Laughter and Forgetting" (a title that nods to a great novel by Milan Kundera) employs pianist John Taylor (who would work with Sylvian a few years later on the Pop Song -single) and flugelhorn from Kenny Wheeler. A gorgeous ballad that suggests the territory Sylvian would explore on the following year's "September", it eventually gives way to the epic "Before the Bullfight." This song is very much a fan's favourite and sounds like an epic extension of a song like 1984's "Nostalgia."
The title track is a collaboration with Robert Fripp, dirge-like Frippertronics collide with spoken word samples - it feels slightly sinister and suggests the bleak territory of Sylvian's divorce-album Blemish. Fripp and Sylvian would regroup in the 1990s and advance their collaboration over a few tours and the albums The First Day and Damage. The highlights of this disc come next, the sublime duo "Wave" and "River Man" - mind-blowing soundscapes that exploit Sylvian's collaborators perfectly. Fripp and Sylvian would deservedly return both of these songs to on both versions of Damage.
The second disc returns the original half of the album that was delegated to a few tracks on the initial single-disc version of this album. This works wonderfully as a stand-alone ambient album, continuing Sylvian's ambient career, from Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities, to the Czukay-collaborations (Flux & Mutability, Plight & Premonition), to the more recent Approaching Silence. Gorgeous soundscapes that leave you gasping for the greatest adjectives, and what evocative titles! : "Where the Railroad Meets the Sea" (quoted as a line on the lost Fripp/Sylvian b-side "Endgame"), "Camp Fire Coyote Country", & "Sunlight Seen Through Towering Trees." An album to play alongside Budd's Lovely Thunder, Eno et al's Apollo Soundtracks, and Dead Can Dance's Within the Realms of a Dying Sun.
Gone to Earth has dated wonderfully, sounding like a precursor of late period Talk Talk and showing how Radiohead should fuse the ambient, avant, and jazz. Sylvian followed it with the Walkeresque Secrets of the Beehive, though returned to this territory with the Rain Tree Crow-project, the Fripp-collaboration and parts of Dead Bees on a Cake and snow borne sorrow. An album well worth investigating, if not a masterpiece on the scale of Beehive or Trees. A bargain twin-set at this price and in this remastered form.
on 9 December 2003
If you haven't listened to much David Sylvian this is a great CD to start your collection with. It features an impressive mix of instrumentals and vocals that range from the very accessible 'Wave' to the somewhat more experimental (for the time) 'Gone to Earth' of the title. Expect lots of timeless, dreamy ambient sounds to chill out to (whatever that means), some occasional darkness and just enough experimentation to stretch your perceptions. I bought my first copy on vinyl more years ago than I care to remember and this current incarnation still sounds every bit as fresh. Unfair to end the review without a nod to the other notable musicicians who contributed to the Album, particullarly Robert Fripp.
on 16 January 2011
I feel that this book was written, even torn, deep from Mary Webb's soul, and it is with this same part of myself that I was led, by the majesty of her writing, to read it. It left me with feelings and thoughts that are linked to something wonderful and mysterious, a faint strain of music, a taste, a touch of something both tangible and elusive. It is one of the most potent things I have ever read. I absolutely love this book, but don't expect it to be a romance with the usual endings, everything about it is unique, uplifting and disturbing.
It is book about conflict, of nature and spirituality, of the earth and heaven, of woman and man, of goodness and evil, truth and hypocrisy, the wild and the tame. It has a similar theme to David Garnett's "Lady into Fox" but with a much broader and deeper span. Mary Webb is an unrecognised genius and we are the poorer for not experiencing and honouring her works.
These enormous themes are explored through Hazel, an impoverished young girl who is a self-contained free spirit, her world is all of nature, the plants, animals and the love, connection and protection she has for them all. As men and the world enter her life, we see how her purity is threatened and distracted. One man is a clergyman and offers her safety and spiritual love, the other a brute, who kills all she loves but yet entices her sexual instincts. She is such an innocent, without the intellect to understand anything of what she feels. As the story progresses, we see how she becomes increasingly torn. I don't want to give away the ending, although you may guess, but please read it, it is like one long beautiful poem that will, if you allow it, open and deepen your sense and appreciation of nature, life and truth.
on 30 August 2003
This is a sensuous and absorbing album. From the Russell Mills cover art to the lush, layered sounds and lyrics. 'Before the Bullfight' is almost certainly the centre piece here, closely followed by 'Wave' and 'Silver Moon', the latter being the album's closer. A memory of sitting on a harbour side in Oban, Western Scotland, listening to 'Silver Moon' is a key memory for me. The album is a classic, unforgettable and a must for CD collections for anyone interested in Sylvian or fans of the many guest musicians involved. The instrumental second disc is beautiful, ethereal and timeless. Personally, I rate GTE as the ultimate and most complete Sylvian solo work to date. The new edition is welcome as it brings the complete album together for the first time in many years. Together with the new enhanced packaging its a must buy. Support Sylvian to go on making great art - buy this CD again!
on 6 January 2003
"Gone to Earth" is an album to which I find myself returning again and again, for in this disc by Sylvian, one seems to find a welcome relief from the dreck that permeates our musical landscape. It is utterly unlike anything produced in the "pop-music" world, and the slow-paced, hypnotic rhythms and echo-guitars (redoloent of some of Achim Reichel's work in the early 70's) weave a magical spell best appreciated listening in the dark.
on 7 January 2004
This started off as an instrumental work (what was originally disc 2 on vinyl). Virgin wanted songs, so Sylvian gave 'em songs - and boy what songs they were. Surrounding himself with the very cream of the UK's avant garde (Nelson, Fripp et al) he conjoured up the single most evocative LP of the 1980's, even eclipsing 'Brilliant Trees'. Admittedly,there's a lot of material to wade through and some of it is initially challenging, but the rewards repay the effort.
A few standout tracks: 'Before the Bullfight', 'River Man', Laughter & Forgetting' and all of the instrumental tracks.
Beauty beyond comprehension.