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"Of the power struggles in heaven and hell",
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This review is from: Secrets Of The Beehive (Audio CD)
David Sylvian's third album, released in 1987, was for me a marked improvement on `Gone to Earth'.
There are ten tracks, the first of which - `September' - barely lasts a minute, "sipping coke and playing games", but is infused with a lovely string sound. Indeed, the album sees more of an acoustic approach than previously, though that is not to say that Sylvian's previous reliance on synthesisers has gone completely by the board. But a glance at the cast list shows, as well as strings, acoustic guitars, a real double-bass, piano, woodwind, and the return of trumpet and flugelhorn. Some of the session musicians are - or were then - some of the best players around. These include Dougie Thompson on double-bass and Mark Isham on trumpet. Sylvian's long-standing association with Ryuchi Sakamoto is also plain on this album with him having some presence on every track. The album was produced by Steve Nye.
Only two of the ten tracks are for me mere fillers. These are `Mother and Child' and the final `Promise', the latter being an additional extra for the CD that is so subtle it almost passes unnoticed. At the other end of the spectrum, there is one truly outstanding track, namely `Orpheus' with a fine orchestral arrangement: "Still the voices have stories to tell / Of the power struggles in heaven and hell / But we feel secure against such mighty dreams / As Orpheus sings of the promise tomorrow may bring."
Atmosphere is the key to `Secrets of the Beehive'. It is darker than Sylvian's previous work, with numerous references in his songs to devils and to violence. And yet the music itself epitomises the opposite: it is gentle with no discordance to jar and mar the appreciation of some truly fine music.