Ok, so a bit of a pedantic review title - but this, the second of Sylvian's collaborations with ex-Can linch-pin Holger Czukay is arguably one of the most beautiful ambient recordings ever made.
Whereas 1988's 'Plight and Premonition' was often stark, and perhaps cold, 'Flux and Mutability' is warm, gentle and balming. The first track 'A big, bright, colourful world' begins with an electronic pulse quickly followed by light but fast percussion which sets you up for the pace of the piece for the next 17 minutes. Even so, we are hardly talking lightning speed, this is relaxing 'mood' music at its best. Radio fluctuations are prevalent here as they were on the last offering, providing some mysterious backdrops to this enigmatic shimmering composition.
The second half, 'A new beginning is in the offing', is 21 minutes of the most beautiful ambiance I have ever heard. Only Eno could be compared to Sylvian here for the ability to infuse such emotion through electronic music, and for me Sylvian has the upper-hand even compared to the masterpiece that is 'Music for Airports'. The first four notes on this piece stop me dead in my tracks every time I hear them, literally forcing me to become totally relaxed, recumbent and silent and start the track from the beginning again. There is no percussion here, just a swirling mass of musical sound that for all of its electronic components, transports you to a very organic pastoral landscape, perhaps helped by the cover image of a farmer herding his flock down a country lane. It does not have an end, but rather the silence you are left in is merely a continuation of the space you find yourself occupying.
This collaboration between two of the finest craftsmen of modern music makes me wonder what that other fine collaboration of John Foxx and Harold Budd would bring should they too, decide to create a 'two-piece' full-length album...
Easily one of my 'desert island discs' and despite 1999's 'Approaching Silence', (although this was recorded for a multi-media installation), best efforts 'Flux and Mutability' remains quite solidly David's finest instrumental work, and in my humble opinion, the finest in its genre.
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