7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My New Career
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...
Published 15 months ago by Mr. 880
54 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Got it, listened to it, sent it back!
Well, I realise my review won't be one of those popular reviews that gets heaps of 'helpful' ticks.
So, please bear with me for one moment while I reassure you that I bought this compilation because I think this is exceptional, astounding music. And although there are a couple of track choices on this selection that I think are misguided, the music itself is...
Published 15 months ago by S. D. Nunn
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My New Career,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't hesitate!,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)Unless you are familiar with David's first three solo albums from the 1980's, Brilliant Trees, Gone to Earth and Secrets of the Beehive, you should not hesitate to buy this for the eight tracks from those albums included here and let yourself be seduced into buying those albums themselves. Then you can regard the other tracks, including the four excellent Sakamoto collaborations and the more variable results of various Japan reincarnations, as the icing on the cake. Even if you have all the original singles and albums represented here, it is still interesting to see what has been omitted (e.g. Nostalgia from Brilliant Trees) and to hear the obligatory (for such compliations) new track, Where's Your Gravity?
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy David Sylvian primer,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)I do own (and love) a couple of Sylvian LPs already but jumped at the chance to get hold of this compilation. Not having followed his career as closely as I ought to have done over the last 30 years, I saw this as a means of getting some perspective on an artist I've always very much admired, but for whom it can sometimes be difficult to find the best point of access. After all, how easy is it to be put off somebody by buying the "difficult" album first accidentally (Ascension, instead of A Love Supreme [Deluxe Edition], for example)?
"A Victim of Stars" might not contain all David Sylvian's best work: although the bulk of material here is new to me, two of my own favourites aren't on here - "September" and "Before the Bullfight" (doesn't bother me mind, as I already own 'em). Also, the version of the classic "Forbidden Colours" is not the one I'm familiar with (the electronic one) but a more piano-ey version (I'm not sure which is considered to be definitive, but my preference is most definitely the former). Nevertheless, of the selections I hadn't previously heard, I have made some real discoveries ("Darkest Dreaming" for one - amazing) and I will certainly be making further Sylvian record purchases off the back of this - so in that sense this compilation has done its job for me.
The 2 disc set is nicely presented in a digipak with a slightly unusual booklet and has the overall feel of a class purchase. The sound quality/mastering is awesome - this is evident from the moment the familiar "Ghosts" (track 1, CD 1) comes out of your speakers.
So why only four stars? Well, whilst this is a nice collection, as I mentioned above there are some omissions. Also, I'd have to say that this is probably not as good an introduction as the studio album Gone to Earth -2cd- - and I'd be tempted to advise any newcomers to take the plunge and go for that instead. But, if I could award 1/2 stars, this would be a 4.5/5.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent compilation.,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)This is superb compilation that includes the more accessible tracks of his brilliant latter work. Some find his last few albums too much in their entirety, but the tracks selected here showcase what an astounding and refreshing songwriter Sylvian remains. Breathtakingly good!
It must be increasingly difficult for artists of this nature to make a living. He is an artist who has never compromised when it comes to the integrity of his music and that extends to the physical product. It is the same for this compilation. I strongly disagree that this compilation is unaccessible, it combines his most commercial work (singles) with the more accessible tracks from his last three albums, it manages this whilst still sounding powerful and interesting. I for one have not been "milked" and such an accusation is ludicrous!
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding wrapping of a remarkable 30 years solo-musical journey,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)A compilation will always be a compilation.
But on this one, the delightful thing is that David Sylvian chose himself which of his most well known pieces could represented him best to fit this 2CD format.
The songs are in chronological order, and the whole pack feels like as if it could be a cd of originals -in its own right, there's a quite cohesive, constant flow in this journey through 3 decades of material. All songs feel suddenly new when set together in this way.
With "Victim of Stars", David Sylvian proves that he still remains as one of the most visionary, innovative, talented British/European artists working today.
Un-baroque, cleansed musical style, stainless, compelling poetry (also in all of his best known pieces) throughout a quite admirable, uncompromising, consequent career.
Definitely, an absolutely outstanding wrapping of a remarkable 30 year long musical journey.
And the only original "Where's your Gravity?, simply soberb...
Thank you sooo much for all these years of inspiration, for all your words, for all your music, Sylvian.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying career retrospective,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (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). I've never really liked all of 'Darkest Birds' and probably would have picked 'A History of Holes', 'The Librarian', or 'The Day the Earth Stole Heaven' instead. 'Wonderful World' featuring Stina Nordenstam, Keith Lowe, and a string arrangement from Ryuichi Sakamoto remains a classic, seeming to fuse post 9/11-War on Terror dread with life after Sylvian's divorce charted on 'Blemish.' 'The Banality of Evil' is great stuff and advances on earlier songs like '20th Century Dreaming' and 'World Citizen' - though is much darker and has a title that refers to Hannah Arendt's classic book on the trial of Eichmann.
The 'Blemish' selections are quite bold - selecting the glitchy despair of 'The Only Daughter' (which caused many to return the LP as faulty) and the ironic 'Late Night Shopping' (a relative of the earlier 'Pop Song') does seem a bit obtuse. 'A Fire in the Forest', recorded with Fennesz alternately is an obvious selection being one of the most affecting songs Sylvian has recorded...this covers the Samadhi Sound material - but not in complete detail. I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy of 'Sleepwalkers' which includes 'World Citizen', 'Ballad of a Deadman', 'Money for All', 'Sleepwalkers', 'Playground Martyrs', 'Transit' and many other fine collaborations....
The rest of disc two devotes itself to three songs from the epic double 'Dead Bees on a Cake' - the gorgeous 'I Surrender' which blends 'Astral Weeks' influences, zen-bliss, Marc Ribot's guitar, earlier lyrics from 'Earthbound', and a Mahavishnu Orchestra-sample. 'Alphabet Angel' is a lovely inclusion and quite unexpected, as is 'Darkest Dreaming' - probably a good thing that lacklustre late Virgin singles like 'Godman' and 'The Scent of Magnolia' were left off this compilation. Sadly there's nothing from either version of the Fripp/Sylvian live LP 'Damage', nor 'The First Day' out-take 'Blinding Light of Heaven', or the collaboration with Hector Zazou from which the compilation takes its title. 'Jean the Birdman' sounds brilliant, I'd have also included 'Endgame', 'Earthbound/Starblind', 'Damage', 'The First Day', and 'Brightness Falls'...still, space may dictate.
Disc one is an odd one - not sure why the E&N version of 'Ghosts' is used - would have made more sense to pick the original as that was really where Sylvian wrote Japan out of the mix and indicated the direction he would go in. Nice that both 'Bamboo Houses' and its flipside 'Bamboo Music' are included - the Sakamoto collaboration sounding more like Y.M.O. and a more minimal take on late Japan tracks 'Still Life in Mobile Homes' and 'Life Without Buildings.'
The re-recording of 'Forbidden Colours' that featured on the original c.d. of 'Secrets of the Beehive' is included - I always thought this was better than the original from 'Merry Xmas, Mr Lawrence.' E&N was a bit absurd as it included several unreleased songs which meant that certain records weren't very well represented - just 'Weathered Wall' was included from 'Brilliant Trees' (though a re-recording of the title track was on the third bonus disc). This seemed odd as Sylvian had said around 1999 that the Rain Tree Crow LP and 'Brilliant Trees' were the two records he was most proud of. So this compilation sets things right with the inclusion of hit single 'Red Guitar' and the other two singles from the great 1984 album, 'The Ink in the Well' (Cocteau and Picasso referenced; lovely performances by Jansen, Mark Isham, and Danny Thompson) and 'Pulling Punches' (which is like a more organic take on 'The Art of Parties' and the last time Sylvian would rock till his work with Fripp in the early 90's).
The two singles from 'Gone to Earth' are included - 'Taking the Veil' was always a mood-piece, but 'Silver Moon' a bit too bland for me and the presence of B.J. Cole a too obvious attempt at the Walkers' 'No Regrets.' I'd have gone with 'Wave', 'River Man', 'Laughter & Forgetting' or my fave Syvlian song, 'Before the Bullfight.' & nothing from the instrumental side of 'Gone to Earth', which reminds me that the whole instrumental/experimental side of Sylvian isn't represented here. See: Alchemy/Words with the Shaman, GTE disc 2, Approaching Silence etc
Sadly the brilliant single 'Buoy', where Sylvian collaborated with Steve Jansen and the late Mick Karn is not included nor their other great song 'When Love Walks In' - I'd have preferred that to the sub-Peter Gabriel single 'Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)' included at the end of disc one. The selections from 'Secrets of the Beehive' are perfect and three of Sylvian's finest songs - though they were all on 'E&N.' Stand alone single 'Pop Song' was also on the 2000 compilation, but is worth revisiting here as it debuts the ironic side of Sylvian and showcases Cage/Stockhausen influences. In fact, I think it sounds like the Czukay albums that preceded it put into a pop song form. Great stuff.
Finally there's the Rain Tree Crow material - just two tracks including single 'Blackwater' and the highlight of that record, 'Every Colour You Are' - I think that LP is a highlight of Sylvian's brilliant career and works really well as a whole. I might have liked 'Pocketful of Change' - but you can't have everything...
'A Victim of Stars' is a pretty fine compilation of Sylvian's long and brilliant career - I think it's better than E&N as it doesn't include a bunch of leftover material that should probably have been released seperately. Hopefully he will get well again and the projected tour will happen, as well as the projected LP of duets with Joan as Police Woman...Certainly a perfect introduction to the world of David Sylvian...
54 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Got it, listened to it, sent it back!,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)Well, I realise my review won't be one of those popular reviews that gets heaps of 'helpful' ticks.
So, please bear with me for one moment while I reassure you that I bought this compilation because I think this is exceptional, astounding music. And although there are a couple of track choices on this selection that I think are misguided, the music itself is not the problem, but the audio quality is.
Briefly, the two tracks I think represent wasted opportunities are, ironically, the two 'hits': Ghosts and Forbidden Colours. To be honest I am not sure why Ghosts needs to be included in any David Sylvian release - sure, it's a corker, but it's a Japan track, hence once again on this comp we get the 'remix' which is actually a re-recording, at least of the vocals. I don't enjoy David Sylvian's performance. It's one of those 'I've sung this song so many times, to make it interesting for myself I'm going to have to take the melody all over the place and play around with the phrasing'. Thanks, but no.
As for Forbidden Colours, once again this is not the original version - it's the version Sylvian recorded later, replete with a string section that may well be a sample. I don't know ... anyway, it's not a bad version. It's fine and dandy, but it is not the original version. It's more than possible that the original versions of these two songs are subject to copyright issues. But if that is the case, I would have happily foregone having them on this comp.
About the audio. Sadly, it doesn't appear these tracks have been remastered for this particular compilation. They sound exactly like the remasters from a few years ago, and let's face it, those remasters weren't impressive. They were the sort of remastering where an audio signal gets sent through a few presets.
Admittedly I cannot be entirely sure. The reason I can't be sure is that, having taken tracks from various sources (i.e. different albums), whoever was responsible for this comp has decided to balance the many different levels, so here we have the worst possible solution: normalisation.
The sound quality is, frankly, absolutely horrible, and I think this does enormous disservice to an artist obviously intent on producing stellar audio. For the record, I listened to this comp using a Musical Fidelity CD player, four mono block amps, and Neat speakers. So, as clean a signal as I can get.
The lack of care and attention, what amounts to complete indifference to the impact of this amazing music is, for me, grounds to give this release a one star review.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive singles album,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)A Victim of Stars is the 'greatest hits' album that Everything and Nothing never was. The 80s are represented pretty faithfully by the singles of the period - no Buoy which is a shame. The nineties mainly the same - no Godman which is a relief. As Sylvian made less and less impact on the charts, some of the later selections are more subjective. Slightly surprised not to have Damage or The Librarian which were both more accessible than some of the other choices made.
The 21st century work which so divides fans is well contextualised in this retrospective. The more obvious and perhaps best tracks from Blemish, Manafon and Died in the Wool make an appearance. If you don't like these ones, you can forget about the albums themselves.
Where's Your Gravity is a worthy addition, albeit probably a B grade Sylvian track. What the album effectively showcases is how Sylvian has evolved through a clever use of collaborators - the original Japan members, Sakamoto, Nelson, Fripp, Talvin Singh, Ribot, Friedman, Bang, Fujikora to name the key ones - to became an artist of unsurpassed grace and depth. This is a beautiful way to share the journey with the usual fantastic artistic presentation.
5.0 out of 5 stars David Sylvian,Always a *Shimmering Star*.......,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars 1982-2012 (Audio CD)This is simply beautiful & must surely feauture some of David Sylvian's most emotive,soothing & heartfelt pieces ever......It's Heartfelt Healing & Poetic Prowess at it's musical best,listen,learn,feel,ENJOY :o)
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection,
This review is from: A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 (Audio CD)A brilliant collection of songs. Some great singles as well as more quirky Sylvian music. Great! Highly recommended for fans.
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A Victim of Stars, 1982-2012 by David Sylvian (Audio CD - 2012)