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3.2 out of 5 stars51
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 16 September 2009
I didnt expect to like this album after Sylvian's last solo release Blemish. "bold" and "uncompromising" is how his record label described it pre release. Yes its not particularly commercial but that's now what Sylvian is about. On Manafon he worked with a number of leading experimental musicians to create a backdrop of sounds, moods and atmospheres to which he responded with his gorgeous vocals. Surprisingly its a lot more melodic than many would think. The opening Small Metal Gods is almost folk like in its delivery, the lyric describing Sylvian's loss of faith in the Hindu gods he once worshipped. I can't pinpoint a highlight on this record as it's all so damn good but if I had to nominate it would be the stunning Emily Dickinson with Evan Parker's beautiful solo at the end of the song. I'm glad Sylvian is still writing songs and he is prepared to take chances. There are very few artists today who have his focus and integrity. Manafon is the record of 2009...easily.
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on 29 October 2013
This work evokes in my mind, a kind of hightened sense of mother nature. It is similar to Died In The Wool, as it is full of images of vast landscapes, and the search for personal identity in that terrain.
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on 12 May 2010
Manfon is a strange creation. I wonder how and why it came about, as I must admit, although some will love this album, the vast majority of Sylvian fans, including myself, will be left out in the cold. I personally find Blemish a difficult listen, and countless sitting at my hi-fi system (and it is a very good system) has not reduced this almost uncomfortable listen.

Don't get me wrong, I have every Sylvian cd, and until Blemish, loved them all. Manafon is a further step backwards in my opinion. Experimental, diverse, groundbreaking, still dosn't mean it's good.

What if a group of musician's from different types of music are asked to play an ambient piece, as they see fit, well that didn't happen as from the cd it is obvious all artists are within a very narrow corridor of music, anorexic to be exact. So basically allot of like-minded musican's got together, to make a form of jazz album, that technically can't be reproduced as it's nature would forbid such exact restrictions.

OK, just because it was made, and in such a manner, how the hell would you know, as an artist, that it would fulfil your artistic desire, someone might have had an off five minutes, the collaboration might be sour, as it's nature is spontenaiety, some might turn out well, and others....well rubbish.

Can we, as the public, be expected to purchase every flight of fancy that has been ill conceived and thrown together, answer....no!

Yes, the majority will miss David Sylvian, as this is a clamouring together of noises with no rhyme or reason barring, I am artistic....love me. Commercial success....no, yes I do own a copy and won't part with it. I will place it properly and push play on my expensive hi-fi system on a regular basis, daring it to sink it's claws and drag me in, and still, I'll feel uncomfortable, hard to listen, boring and unpleasant at the same time, and last only three songs at best before reaching for Wonderful World, Tooth Mother, Buried things, Blue Bell Knoll, Aten, Vrioon, Plight and Premonition, Tutu, Candylion, The Fires of Ork, etc.

I'm sorry, and really I am, no matter how hard I try to like this cd, I remember why I don't. I really want to, but no.
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on 16 May 2013
Manafon is a work that not only bored and tired but that one comes to think that this album is not a work of music but rather a series of semi spoken word accompanied by some sounds and noises. Difficult? I really do not know. The main problem is that "Manafon" does not transmit anything that can be enjoyed as their old discs. In this work, there is no melody and the atmosphere is depressing. It's a shame that a musician with so many qualities who has created wonderful masterpieces like "Gone To Earth"and has started a strange race difficult to understand, assimilate and very hard to enjoy. A journey that started with Blemish and sadly continues to the present.
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on 24 April 2010
David Sylvian continues his retreat from the mainstream with his latest album. Entitled Manafon, which is a parish in Wales, the music within is unconventional to say the least. Almost all of the 9 songs take the same form, sparse instrumentation, made up of some brief snatches of classical music, occasional acoustic guitar and other random noises, with Sylvian's voice centre-stage on all but one of the tracks. Upon repeated listens, his voice becomes almost intrusive in parts. The music is compelling, in that it does not follow linear, 'song-like' forms, though it's a stretch to say it's thoroughly enjoyable.

The overall effect is that of Sylvian warbling over almost random music (all the backing tracks were improvised with a large cast of collaborators). It's possibly his most difficult album, you need to be in a certain frame of mind to listen to it. It's light years away from his solo work of the 80s and 90s.
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on 18 August 2009
I remember why Ghosts was on Top of the Pops and Japan were part of a wave of bands around the "New Romantic" scene, my sister rather dismissed Sylvian a "another Ferryite" since Bryan Ferry had become a big influence of a number of vocalists at the time. I was, therefore, a bit unsure about Sylvian's solo career, he did have a bit of work in establishing his credibility, however I was won over when I had listened to Brilliant Trees a few times. He has consistantly followed his own musical path, unafraid to alienate his more conservative audience.

This album is a bold step forward in free improvised music. His collaborators include Evan Parker who is a major figure in free improvised jazz. I asm not sure what the reviewer here, who gave this album 1 star but then started his review with "Excellent album, hard to listen..." is on about, if it is excellent then surely it deserves more than one star as a rating? I believe it IS excellent and yes it is a bit difficult to get into but that, I have always thought, is a GOOD thing. Music that is easy on the ear can become unfulfiling after a while whereas this albums promises to grow and grow on me, as almost all music that I initially find challenging does.

David Sylvian is a true artist, in a time when many are just playing safe he is pushing forward into new territory and I applaud that. I know this will not appeal to a lot of people, it is much more jazz than pop, and a very challenging area of jazz at that, but if you give it time and you want to earn the pleasure that comes from listening to great music then buy this album it is very very good.
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on 10 July 2013
Well, Mr Sylvian has been promising this for years, but now with this album it has finally happened. David Sylvian has now completely vanished up his own backside. Truly dreadful.
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on 14 January 2015
Utter rubbish from a genius. What a waste of cardboard and plastic. Avoid. Go buy Nine Horses instead.
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on 2 October 2009
The music on this album is inspiring and always engaging, creating an interesting and unique aural experience. But for me Sylvian's structured lyrics and vocals are at odds with the music's free form and for me a distraction. This also has the impact of making his vocal style too mannered, a problem I did not find with Blemish. Time will tell, but this album presently ranks alongside Dead Bees on A Cake (Darkest Dreaming excluded) as my least favourite Sylvian offering.

However, the deluxe version is certainly worth getting for the 5.1 mix and the excellent Amplified Gesture documentary.
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on 8 October 2009
Of course he's a genius and of course geniuses have to do what they have to do, but I just can't get it - and I've really tried, honest. That lovely warm baritone (?) voice could read the shopping list with some white noise in the background and make it sound interesting and that's pretty much what he's done here. Absolute respect to the man for making something so uncompromising and personal but can we have some tunes next time please?
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