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Is our love strong enough?,
This review is from: Secrets Of The Beehive (MP3 Download)
...And with these words, one of David Sylvian's earliest triumphs stopped. That it carries on briefly with duff extra tracks on both the original and the re-released CD is neither here nor there. It shouldn't, but at least you know where to press the stop button.
With 'Secrets of the Beehive', brevity is the key. At the time of it's release, I was a little dubious and thought it all sounded a little too clean. Wherefore art thou, scuzzy, swirly guitars? Come hither indie values. Clean orchestration and jazzy percussion? Oh dear. Wasn't Sting trying much the same thing? ...Well, I'd been wrong before and I would be again.
'Secrets...' is David Sylvian's boldest effort to craft songs. Gone are the synths of 'Tin Drum', the experimentation of 'Brilliant trees' and the long instrumentation of 'Gone to earth.' In it's place are tidy piano punctuations, stabs of orchestra, acoustic basses, trumpet solos, nylon guitars and brushed snares. That Sylvian makes it dark yet inviting is proof of the man's artistry. That he allows Ryuichi Sakamoto so much freedom with those ethereal arrangements shows how Sylvian accepts, invites, coaxes and bathes himself in the talents of others to the benefit, and always to the benefit, of the art's end. I think it's safe to say that his contempories over at PWL productions weren't quite as concerned with such matters.
At only 9 songs long - and one of them only a minute in length - nothing is wasted, but you naturally have favourites and lesser so's: 'September', 'Orpheus', 'Mother and Child', 'When the Poets Dreamed of Angels', 'The Devil's Own' & 'Maria' are amongst the former; 'Let the Happiness In' the only latter. Just for a perverse thrill, you almost wish that 'September' was a cover of the Earth, Wind & Fire tune. Wouldn't that be good? Wouldn't it?
After an instrumental masterpiece in 'Flux & Mutability' (co-credited with Holger Czukay) David Sylvian recorded many fine tunes, but he didn't release a whole album as consistently great as 'Secrets...' until the couldn't-be-more-different 'Blemish' in 2003. 'Blemish' seems to have re-kindled his fire, and both '...Naoshima' and 'Manofon' have shown Sylvian still peaking, still pushing himself as far as he can. (We'll ignore the Nine Horses album, thanks. I'm trying to make a point here.)
It seems that David Sylvian has decided to leave the craft of song-writing to one side for the time being, leaving us with 'Secrets...' as his insecure masterclass in How-It-Should-Be-Done. When a record can be compared to 'Scott 3', 'Sketches of Spain', 'One World' & 'King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown' and all those comparisons are correct, then you know you're in the presence of something just that little bit special.
But just a brief word of caution. Buy the CD. The MP3 download was bobbins.