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Customer Review

80 of 94 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A large part of his audience further alienated, 25 May 2011
This review is from: Died In The Wool (Audio CD)
Fact: David Sylvian has the most beautiful voice in popular music
Fact: Sylvian is prone to frame this voice with discordant unsettling music.

`Blemish' and `Manafon' were not really for me. Maybe my ear is not discerningly avant garde enough for these productions or maybe, and I prefer to believe this more likely, I simply view these albums as wasteful. Sylvian's voice can melt the hardest of hearts but in competition with a cacophony of sound it cannot shine.

I bought this album because the `Blemish' remix offering produced quite a few gems and I was hoping this might be the case with `Died in the wool'. Alas, not so.

Sylvian's voice is very much to the fore here but the music, free form strings and electronica, is consistently clattering incoherently away in the background. Admittedly, the music is far lower in the mix than the vocals but it is nonetheless a constant distraction and ultimately, for me, makes the album unlistenable.

The simplest way to stress my view is to imagine David Sylvian standing in the kitchen of a busy restaurant singing acapella!

I expect many will dismiss this review because they fall into the avant garde category and see traits in the music that I do not. Fair enough! Let it be known however that I do love the man and the greater body of his work. Though I dislike this album I respect his ongoing efforts to test musical boundaries and I can therefore award no less than 3 stars.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 May 2011 14:52:42 BDT
Billy Budd says:
Good review.

Like you, I found much to admire on Blemish, although the more accessible final track from that album - 'A Fire In The Forest' is the highpoint for me. Manafon I couldn't get into at all, I go back to it occasionally but it still leaves me cold. Maybe that musical eureka moment is yet to come.

The Nine Horses record is the happy medium for me. Experimental but free from any obvious Avante Garde trappings and brimming with emotion.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2011 18:54:48 BDT
When people say his work is "unlistenable" I cringe because all you have to do is sit there and LISTEN. It is never that offensive to be unlistenable even at its most obtuse. It is different and interesting. It's not sing song music like he did and I appreciate his desire to extend his songwriting.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2011 11:55:38 BDT
Mr. S. James says:
I too think 'Fire In The Forest' is an absolute highlight of the otherwise awkward 'Blemish' I have not risked buying Manafon or this because I cannot seem to get it. Maybe I am just getting old. To me 'Dead Bees On a Cake' was the last truly great vocal album he did and the instrumental 'Approaching Silence' gets a regular listen. If he should team up with Jon Hopkins like King Creosote did, maybe the result would be interesting - but losing the avant-garde free jazz would certainly benefit in my opinion. If you like Sylvian for the same reason I do then you may like 'Mothlight', 'Trauma', 'Shadowland' and 'Camphor' - hard to find tracks but very rewarding.

Posted on 9 Sep 2011 08:21:21 BDT
Simon Purdon says:
Not sure I would agree with you about this. I certainly wouldnt categorise Died In The Wool as avant garde. To my ears it's extremely melodic and has strong structure. Yes it may not be as immediate as something like Beehive BUT avant garde to me suggests an artist like Derek Bailey who I DO find unlistenable. Each to their own right enough but I do think there is some really beautiful music on here if you put in the effort.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Sep 2011 08:23:01 BDT
Simon Purdon says:
Find it strange that have no problems listening to tracks like Mothlight, Trauma and Approaching Silence and yet struggle with Blemish and Manafon. If anything those instrumentals are more challenging than the aforementioned albums

Posted on 19 Dec 2012 11:08:02 GMT
rumkorf says:
You absolutly richt !

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2013 09:16:01 BDT
Unlistenable tends to refer to the fact that the music is so dire that silence is preferable, and there is no activity that would be enhanced by this music being present. My wife likes Pink, and sadly, this Šlbum and Manafon go in the same category for me. Give me Approaching Silence any day.
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