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Brilliant Trees Original recording remastered

4.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 May 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B000F3T7XS
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,792 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

DAVID SYLVIAN Brilliant Trees (2006 issue UK 7-track digitally remastered CD album [originally released in 1984] and features guest contributions from Brian Eno and Ryuichi Sakamoto complete with updated artwork)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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I always consider that David Sylvian should be cast in a similar role to that of Scott Walker. Both turned their backs on what were enormously successful bands to follow their own muse with little real care for commercial rewards. Instead they simply went about creating a distinctive niche from which both are still putting out records which bear little interest in commercial realities and are more artistic statements.

"Brilliant Trees" is where Sylvian began his journey. Here is a record which is steeped in French literature and art from the Paris of the inter-war years of Satre and musical cues coming from jazzy time signtures of ECM, the forth world ambience of Brian Eno, and echoes of a band who coloured a great deal of his music took cues from throughout the 80's, Can.

There is an echo of former group Japan in the opening track "Pulling Punches", which could have easily fit onto the final "Tin Drum" album, but from then on it really takes no interest in anything of his past legacy. The jazzy time signatures of "Ink In The Well" and "Red Guitar" mark them as two of the most distinctive top 40 records of the whole decade. Whilst a good deal of the rest of the album is filled with gentle textures and a quite ambient feel about it. Although this contains faint echoes of Japan it is fuzzier and lacks the clinical feel some of their work contains.

What makes the album for me is some of the contributions from the support musicians. Danny Thompson's double bass sounds as rich and warm here as he did when working with Nick Drake and the solo by Kenny Wheeler on "Ink In The Well" gives the track a really blistering second half.
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David Sylvian's debut from 1984 remains an undoubted classic. The break between 'Tin Drum'/'Oil on Canvas' & this album, though only a year or so, had given Sylvian chance to grow & develop. The supporting cast- including Ryuichi Sakamoto, Danny Thompson, Mark Isham, Steve Jansen, Holger Czuckay & Richard Barbieri all add wonderfully to the record.
'Pulling Punches' is a more organic continuation of the rockier end of Japan- such as 'The Art of Parties'. It also reminds me of 'Scary Monsters'-Bowie & 'Lightning Strikes' by The Clash. It would be the last time Sylvian would 'rock out' til 'The First Day'...'The Ink in the Well' contrasts with this, a mellow lull aided by Thompson's jazzy double bass. Think Scott Walker sings Tim Buckley (in blue). Sylvian, still kind of a pop-star, singing about Picasso (It seems 80's popstars had musical ambitions, rather than commercial ones)...'Nostalgia' takes an Oriental vocal & the type of ambient space of 'My New Career'& 'A Foreign Place'to fresh lengths. It provided title for the Japan compilation 'Exorcising Ghosts' & seems to be doing just that. Along with the later 'Maria' & 'Godman' it seems to be taking the template of 'Ghosts' to previously uncharted territories. 'Red Guitar' is one of Sylvian's great songs; the piano has a warm jazzy feel- the song itself has the drama of a Bond theme & the brilliant, resigned "It's been this way for years"...'Weathered Wall' continues the Yellow Magic/Sakamoto-inflections of 'Bamboo Houses/Music' & 'Taking Islands in Africa'. Co-written with Jon Hassell, it takes us to the kind of ambient plain Eno dreamt up a few decades ago.
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Eternal recurrence in a key concept of the pop-landscape and one example was found in the case of David Sylvian. In the 1960s, Scott Walker found himself afflicted with another kind of Beatlemania and went decidedly odd - staging car-crashes to get out of gigs, being found asleep on park-benches & escaping to a monastery. Sylvian didn't quite go that far, though he has alluded to addictions from this period (it was the 1980s!), but found himself in a similar position to Walker: artistic aspirations, good looks and a burgeoning teenybop audience. Ironically as Japan began to have commercial success, with fifth album 'Tin Drum' and the 'Oil on Canvas'-tour they split. The band-free likes of 'Ghosts' & 'Nightporter' and work with Ryuichi Sakamoto ('Bamboo Houses', 'Forbidden Colours', 'Taking Islands in Africa') had obviously been liberating.

Recorded in London and West Berlin in 1983 and 1984, 'Brilliant Trees' was rumoured to be an arduous task for Sylvian, who "experimented" with uncompleted/unheard tracks before getting to these, and reportedly found the experience of playing back the material uncomfortable. Sylvian around the time of 'Dead Bees on a Cake' cited this and the 'Rain Tree Crow'-album as his personal favourites; while the recent 'snow borne sorrow' by nine horses advances on the type of territory here such as 'The Ink in the Well' and 'Nostalgia.' The list of musicians who contributed to this is fantastic - Can-member Holger Czukay, former Japan drummer/synthplayer (& Sylvian's brother) Steve Jansen, Sakamoto, Jon Hassell ('Power Spot', 'On Land'), Danny Thompson, Mark Isham, Richard Barbieri (another former Japan member), Kenny Wheeler, Phil Palmer.
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