David Sylvian S/D

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
excluding rain tree crow and japan, m'kay.

Shaun Kinski, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

In this order....

Secrets Of The Beehive Gone To Earth (the first two sides - destroy the instrumental stuff) Brilliant Trees Dead Bees On A Cake

Destroy: Alchemy Most of the instrumental stuff except the Plight and Premonition. Sylvian/Fripp

Baxter Wingnut, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

There was actually a similar thread a couple of weeks ago, but I can't find it. The Orpheus 12" & Secrets of the Beehive pretty much sum up what I Like about his music.

Jez, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Seek out : The First Day . Damage . Approaching Silence . Gone to Earth . Alchemy - an index of possibilities . Flux + Mutability .

not really necessary, but nice just the same : Dead Bees on a Cake, Secrets of the Beehive, Brilliant Trees, Plight and Premonition, Everything and Nothing

Destroy : Camphor

brian, Friday, 9 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Search: Sylvian's entire catalog

Though you will find many flaws...Brilliant Trees has tracks like Pulling Punches and Red Guitar, reminiscent of cheesy Japan tracks that were probably included to keep fans of that band satisfied...Gone to Earth,with the exception of needless Laughter and Forgetting occupying space, is flawless... Secrets of the Beehive includes a few too many songs in 6/8 time cuz Sylvo was in his serious Nick Drake psuedo folky phase, and this style only truly succeeds with the song Orpheus...Half of Dead Bees on a Cake is forgettable...

Alchemy is an enjoyable listening experience...Plight and Premonition is interesting , Flux and Mutability shows the improvisational path he would take with Rain Tree Crow (which were the guys from Japan, but it is so much better than anything they did)...Ember Glance is innocuous...

Sylvian / Fripp's THE FIRST DAY was definitely an important collaboration of the early nineties for both participants. Fripp kicks some much needed life into Sylvian and proves that he actually can be ballsy when he sets out to. the true stars of this album is the American rhythm section of Trey Gunn and Jerry Marotta, who groove so heavily throughout...the live album, DAMAGE, is easily the best live album from the nineties... Approaching Silence is a nice ambient piece that serves very well as either background listening or under close scrutiny... It's a shame that Fripp felt compelled to dredge up the old Crimson banner, cause his work with Sylvian was far superior.

gigi, Saturday, 10 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Japan>Solo Sylvian, Crimson>Solo Sylvian, gigi=mentalist. : )

Sean, Saturday, 10 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

This may be widely known or maybe not. I once read that Fripp had originally hoped (circa 92) that the lineup of Sylvian, Gunn, Marotta and himself make up the reformed Crimson. Sylvian declined, effectively leading towards Crimson's taking a huge step backward. Then, in 94, after Sylvian and Fripp completed Redemption / Approaching Silence, I read that Sylvian hoped that there was a chance of Sylvian Fripp and Gunn working once again in the trio format that they undertook for The First Day tours of Japan and Italy. Pity that this never came to fruition due to the happenings with Crimson. So Sylvian decided to do the Slow Fire tour as a solo performer in 95.

megan, Saturday, 10 August 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

i can't believe he left "wave" and "forbidden colors" off of "everything and nothing" and put some of the crappy stuff he did on there.

akm, Sunday, 3 August 2008 06:25 (nine years ago) Permalink

anyway right now I can't think of a better 40 minute album than the first half of "gone to earth". at the risk of sounding like Bimble or something, this thing really kicked my ass all week. probably twice a year I got back on Sylvian binges and it's always something different that stands out as his high point.

akm, Sunday, 3 August 2008 06:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

also, those ingrid chavez collaborations (the four songs from little girls with 99 lives) are pretty terrible (except for the one without her on it).

akm, Sunday, 3 August 2008 06:43 (nine years ago) Permalink

search: blemish, nine horses stuff, secrets of the beehive, gone to earth

destroy: dead bees on a cake

ConnieXX, Sunday, 3 August 2008 08:55 (nine years ago) Permalink

Oh no someone else besides me revived a David Sylvian thread. Oh my god. I could go on and on and on about Gone To Earth. Please don't get me started.

Also I recently tried the Damage album with Robert Fripp. I was actually pleasantly surprised, though I guess my expectations were low. There was an especially amazing song on that..."Every Colour You Are". I don't think I made it through the whole album, though. Not sure if I heard the last two songs or not.

So much music, so little time.

Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You, Sunday, 3 August 2008 10:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

New David Sylvian album


13.03.09: David Sylvian ‘Manafon’

We’re preparing for the release of David’s new album ‘Manafon’. It’s a powerfully bold, uncompromising work featuring contributions from Evan Parker, John Tilbury, Keith Rowe, Christian Fennesz, Otomo Yoshihide, and many more. We’ll be sharing more information on the release shortly.

djmartian, Friday, 13 March 2009 21:23 (eight years ago) Permalink

I've been listening to Smokey Robinson and thinking that he must have been on big influence on Sylvian's vocal style (the little waver in his voice). I suppose it was obvious because of the "I Second that Emotion" and "Ain't that Peculiar" covers...but for some reason I never made the connection in the actual style of singing.

Patrick South, Friday, 13 March 2009 21:35 (eight years ago) Permalink

this is the only good news i've had all week

akm, Friday, 13 March 2009 22:23 (eight years ago) Permalink

This is gonna be chock a block with catchy tunes then...

sonnyboy, Friday, 13 March 2009 22:55 (eight years ago) Permalink

tilbury and rowe together again. pretty excited here.

jed_, Friday, 13 March 2009 23:03 (eight years ago) Permalink

This sounds awesome - hopefully a followup to Blemish at last.

toby, Friday, 13 March 2009 23:59 (eight years ago) Permalink

"tilbury and rowe together again. pretty excited here."

no, from what I know about these recordings, there were some made in Vienna (w/ Rowe, Fennesz, Stangl, others), some in Tokyo (w/ Otomo, Sachiko M, Toshimaru Nakamura, I think Tetuzi Akiyama?), and there must have been others made in London with Tilbury and Evan Parker and others (this is the first I'm hearing of this last part). anyway, Keith and John didn't play together, or I certainly would have heard about it.

and as this looks basically like a David and the Erstwhile All-Stars project, I'm pretty excited to hear the results. FWIW, the Tokyo and Vienna recordings were made quite some time ago, I believe, late 2005/maybe early 2006?

jon abbey, Saturday, 14 March 2009 14:34 (eight years ago) Permalink

thanks for the info, jon. i didn't love blemish but i'm still excited to hear this.

jed_, Saturday, 14 March 2009 20:43 (eight years ago) Permalink

i'm hoping it's more snow borne sorrow than blemish

kamerad, Saturday, 14 March 2009 21:12 (eight years ago) Permalink

just judging from the other musicians, I think it's going to be pretty new territory for him.

jon abbey, Saturday, 14 March 2009 22:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

I heard that this will be both a CD and DVD, and that it may be out as soon as April (although that's a really quick turnaround, so let's see).

jon abbey, Wednesday, 18 March 2009 21:27 (eight years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

looks like I was part right:

"Manafon's release date is set for Sept 14th. Manafon will be available in two editions. A regular CD/digipak edition and a twin volume deluxe edition with CD and DVD featuring the film 'Amplified Gesture'."


jon abbey, Friday, 17 July 2009 02:29 (eight years ago) Permalink

Sadly the title of the film makes me think of an even angrier flipping of the bird.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 17 July 2009 02:47 (eight years ago) Permalink

Wire cover story next month too, dunno who's doing it/did it.

jon abbey, Monday, 20 July 2009 06:34 (eight years ago) Permalink

That'll be just over ten years since dude's last cover story, then.


anagram, Monday, 20 July 2009 11:46 (eight years ago) Permalink

Press waffle sent out just now:

On Manafon, Sylvian pursues "a completely modern kind of chamber music. Intimate, dynamic, emotive, democratic, economical." In sessions in London, Vienna, and Tokyo, Sylvian assembled the world's leading improvisers and innovators, artists who explore free improvisation, space-specific performance, and live electronics. From Evan Parker and Keith Rowe, to Fennesz and members of Polwechsel, to Sachiko M and Otomo Yoshihide, the musicians provide both a backdrop and a counterweight to his own vocal performances - which, minus one instrumental, are nakedly the center of each piece.

Sylvian's voice has never been so dominant or so striking, and his resonant tenor and deliberate vibrato captivate the listener from the start of "Small Metal Gods." Its prominence would come off as egotistical - except that each performance is an exercise in self-exposure, and each character study is written in the third-person, to allow the maximum detachment.

"It's like a one-man monologue in which every change of light and backdrop is crucial to the carrying of the central performance. It's an ensemble work even though there is a central performance." Though the setlist is all ballads, romanticism is out, and no percussion provides a pulse. All the melody and rhythm rest in the voice. Aside from overdubs of acoustic guitar or John Tilbury's somber, Feldman-esque phrases on piano, Sylvian enhanced but did not reconfigure the improvisations, giving himself just the skeletons of songs to guide him.

When an instrument locks with the lyrics - as when Fennesz introduces a texture that clinches the disaster of "Snow White in Appalachia" - the moment is indescribable; when it dissolves, Sylvian doesn't pause. Neither a complement nor a Greek chorus, the instrumentalists maintain an ambiguous attitude to the singer, and what he's saying. When Sylvian's delivery implies sympathy or mockery on "The Greatest Living Englishman," the music is cantankerous but dry, and Otomo Yoshihide's abrupt snippets of classical vinyl may or may not share the joke.

The closing track, "Manafon," depicts the British poet R. S. Thomas. Sylvian explains that it is "a description of a man of faith, who struggles with that faith, who imposes an order on the external world in the hope of finding it internally. A man who embraces the morals and values of his faith and lives by them but who also struggles with the silence that burns inside his own heart and mind. God's silence. He's a man out of time who begins to look, on the surface, more like some tragicomic figure as time passes. While he seems to be an insufferable individual in many ways there's a quixotic element in his quest for knowledge, for upholding morals and values that even he struggles with when it comes to believing in their efficacy."

Manafon's contradictions lay at the heart of its excellence. It's driven not just by the tension between improvisation and composition, frontman and ensemble, or in Sylvian's words, "intimacy and solitude." Manafon captures the dilemma of a man who studies himself clincically, but cannot truly understand himself; who's disillusioned, but maybe laughably so. The most common sensation, which hangs in almost every note, is a feeling of suspense. The sole instrumental - to which Sylvian also contributes - sounds less like a performance, and more like a wellspring of possibilities.

The album ends simply on a phrase and a breath. But there's a happier ending in its other theme: Manafon also explores the creative process. Intuition drew Sylvian to these pieces and these players, and the surprises they bring: a cello visiting like a warm hand on a forehead, the unpredictable use of unadulterated sine waves, the brassy path of Evan Parker's soprano sax solo. Manafon has a forbidding core, but aesthetically, each piece is an engrossing discovery.

"Maybe I'm attracted to the stories of individuals who search for meaning on their own terms," says Sylvian. "But what I'm fascinated by is the devotion to a creative discipline. The meaning with which the work imbues the life regardless of its reception and, to a certain extent, its importance."

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 14:52 (eight years ago) Permalink

This new one's killing it. Reminds me a touch of the start to Laughing Stock in its fragmentary/rough-edged feel, but maintained and developed in different directions throughout the album, while Sylvian's always a calm center.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 30 July 2009 04:42 (eight years ago) Permalink

often he's a calm centre to generally calm songs. nice to hear that there's a bit of a rough dynamic to this one.

Charlie Howard, Thursday, 30 July 2009 05:14 (eight years ago) Permalink

He's certainly been playing around more with that over this decade but this is probably his most consistent work on that front. It's not the songs are explosive -- they're understated but very unsettled.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 30 July 2009 05:20 (eight years ago) Permalink


Turangalila, Thursday, 30 July 2009 05:36 (eight years ago) Permalink

Wow Ned, that sounds great! Can't wait.

young depardieu looming out of void in hour of profound triumph (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 30 July 2009 09:29 (eight years ago) Permalink

That video alone... great, great stuff.

young depardieu looming out of void in hour of profound triumph (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 30 July 2009 09:31 (eight years ago) Permalink

Looking forward to this a lot. Loved what the Polwechsel guys did with Dean Roberts (i.e. Autistic Daughters).

Joerg Hi Dere (NickB), Thursday, 30 July 2009 09:48 (eight years ago) Permalink

am i missing something? that video is just the live version of "a fire in the forest"

damo tsu tsuki (r1o natsume), Thursday, 30 July 2009 12:28 (eight years ago) Permalink

yes that's what i'm hearing.

psyched about this

sonderangerbot, Thursday, 30 July 2009 12:48 (eight years ago) Permalink

Ah, thanks damo, didn't pick that up.

young depardieu looming out of void in hour of profound triumph (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 30 July 2009 14:05 (eight years ago) Permalink

Actually I meant to post another video, but am at work. It's David talking about all the musicians he worked with for this album.

Turangalila, Thursday, 30 July 2009 17:02 (eight years ago) Permalink

Finally something to look forward to.

I played that video and—what is it, a promo? it's hard to tell—I actually hope the album doesn't have too much of that granular, burbling Fennesz sound in it. It worked once, brilliantly, but the minute I started watching the video I caught myself thinking "that's a bit of a dated sound, eh?" Maybe I have absurdly high expectations here, but some of that melodic software improv stuff hasn't aged all that well to my ears.

Sachiko M, though, is basically the anti-Fennesz though so I'm sure it will all come out balanced. Pity Ami Yoshida—Sachiko M's old partner in the delightful Cosmos—isn't onboard. Her chirping and retching noises + Sachiko's hiss and crackle would have been a beautiful voice/electronic dual counterpoint to the Sylvian croon + the Fennesz syrup.

I'm going to go run around in the yard for a minute.

VahRehVah (fields of salmon), Sunday, 9 August 2009 23:07 (eight years ago) Permalink

fields of salmon, that video was fanmade. No clips from the album have surfaced online as far as I know.

Turangalila, Sunday, 9 August 2009 23:17 (eight years ago) Permalink

Search song: Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit – The Librarian (feat. David Sylvian) *aka* Nine Horses - The Librarian.

Moka, Sunday, 9 August 2009 23:22 (eight years ago) Permalink

did anyone hear When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima from 2007? one long ambient piece made up of field recordings made at naoshima. based on the collaborators alone i'm guessing it's pretty good

damo tsu tsuki (r1o natsume), Sunday, 9 August 2009 23:33 (eight years ago) Permalink

gahhhh when will Manafon LEAK goddamnit :(

Turangalila, Sunday, 9 August 2009 23:38 (eight years ago) Permalink

did anyone hear When Loud Weather Buffeted Naoshima from 2007? one long ambient piece made up of field recordings made at naoshima. based on the collaborators alone i'm guessing it's pretty good

― damo tsu tsuki (r1o natsume), Sunday, August 9, 2009 11:33 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark

Love it! Haven't dound a copy of it myself, so have to do it with my illegal mp3. But it's great ~ stretching his common 'song' sound and length for an entire album. It's quite blissful.

young depardieu looming out of void in hour of profound triumph (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 10 August 2009 00:14 (eight years ago) Permalink


young depardieu looming out of void in hour of profound triumph (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 10 August 2009 00:15 (eight years ago) Permalink

"Sachiko M, though, is basically the anti-Fennesz though so I'm sure it will all come out balanced. Pity Ami Yoshida—Sachiko M's old partner in the delightful Cosmos—isn't onboard. Her chirping and retching noises + Sachiko's hiss and crackle would have been a beautiful voice/electronic dual counterpoint to the Sylvian croon + the Fennesz syrup."

ha! someone should do a mashup of Ami's part of Soba to Bara with the Manafon backgrounds, Sobafon.

anyway, sadly for your plan, Sachiko and Fennesz don't overlap here. the individual personnel for each track are listed in a post at the link below, the only track Sachiko is on is the one I'm by far the most excited about, mostly for the personnel but also for the title:

the greatest living englishman (10:55)
music: akiyama/sachiko m/nakamura/yoshihide/sylvian
lyrics: sylvian
electric and acoustic guitar (left channel): tetuzi akiyama
no-input mixer: toshimaru nakamura
sine wave sampler: sachiko m.
turntables, acoustic guitar (right channel): otomo yoshihide
piano: john tilbury
vocals: david sylvian


jon abbey, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 04:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

that lineup is all kinds of amazing.

Turangalila, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 04:06 (eight years ago) Permalink

@ [email address removed] (r1o natsume)

Been trying to get back to you, but the ILX-mail robot continues to fail on me. Could you drop me an e-mail at [another mail removed] ?

young depardieu looming out of void in hour of profound triumph (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 12 August 2009 08:43 (eight years ago) Permalink

Search song: Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit – The Librarian (feat. David Sylvian) *aka* Nine Horses - The Librarian.

I believe they're different versions, albeit not dramatically.

Sylvian's done some fantastic guest vocal appearances, search these recent ones:
Tweaker - Pure Genius
Fennesz - Transit
Blonde Redhead - Messenger
Takagi Masakatsu - Exit/Delete
Punkt - Angels
Arve Henriksen - Thermal

Also there's a recent Samadhi sampler called "The World Is Everything" with two great Sylvian tracks, "The World Is Everything" and "Sleepwalkers".

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 20:32 (eight years ago) Permalink

That's from a compilation.

Whoever needs a copy email me geraldmcbb at h0tmail d0t c0m

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 23 September 2017 22:00 (five months ago) Permalink

it's still there, at least for me.

akm, Sunday, 24 September 2017 15:10 (five months ago) Permalink

From the comments it looks like he took it down and then re-upped it.

heaven parker (anagram), Sunday, 24 September 2017 15:35 (five months ago) Permalink

That beautiful country remix is flowing nicely. I especially appreciate that his voice seems less affected than i remembered it.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Sunday, 24 September 2017 19:35 (five months ago) Permalink

Since I already posted my e-mail address, if anyone wants a giant ZIP of David's rarities (64 tracks), drop me a note.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Sunday, 24 September 2017 19:53 (five months ago) Permalink

E-mail sent! <3

Le Bateau Ivre, Sunday, 24 September 2017 20:18 (five months ago) Permalink

another newish one he put up there that had slipped me by: https://soundcloud.com/user-516495290/jacqueline-demo

akm, Monday, 25 September 2017 15:55 (four months ago) Permalink

Both soundcloud tracks remind me how much I've missed his ambient pop work. Hopefully his willingness to post older tracks is based on some new creative drive.

doug watson, Monday, 25 September 2017 17:26 (four months ago) Permalink

We'll see, he said a few years back he was done with vocal work. Of course he wouldn't be the first artist to change their mind.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 25 September 2017 18:19 (four months ago) Permalink

anyone know explicitly what his illness was? i saw something about his back at some point, but I thought maybe it was actually his lungs or something; perhaps he's lost his voice.

akm, Monday, 25 September 2017 18:20 (four months ago) Permalink

So 21 people downloaded the odds and sods comp I made. Any thoughts, favorite bits, etc? For me, I'm surprised and pleased how good 5 hours off (mostly) collaborations flows, David's voice really makes the songs his own.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 9 October 2017 15:55 (four months ago) Permalink

It's taken me awhile but I'm finally appreciating David's later collaborations, which are also captured on Sleepwalkers, as much as his earlier ones. (If anything, it's the Dead Bees era that I now find the least interesting.) And yeah, his voice def brings a cohesiveness to this collection.

doug watson, Thursday, 12 October 2017 13:19 (four months ago) Permalink

I haven't done an A/B comparison, but I think many of the tracks on "Sleepwalkers" are remixed to some extent.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 12 October 2017 15:07 (four months ago) Permalink

yes they are

akm, Thursday, 12 October 2017 23:41 (four months ago) Permalink

Oh hey Gerald I dropped a line re this collection -- did you get it?

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 12 October 2017 23:51 (four months ago) Permalink

It was in my junk folder. ;-) Replied.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 13 October 2017 02:01 (four months ago) Permalink


Ned Raggett, Friday, 13 October 2017 02:15 (four months ago) Permalink

In a fb post about his Weinstein tweets (that he's since deleted), DS said he considers himself "retired".

mr.raffles, Friday, 13 October 2017 16:26 (four months ago) Permalink


i'm going to past that in case it gets deleted or for people not on facebook:

For those that are interested, yesterday was a big day for fans of the highly-influential and unique band Japan. Their manager, Simon Napier-Bell, posted about his time with the band, trotting out his side of the story of their split in 1982. Suddenly, David Sylvian - their somewhat reclusive singer - came on the thread with a massive rebuttal directly aimed at his old manager, claiming he ripped them off and also talking about how he was kept from his dying friend Mick Karn's bedside. Almost as soon as Sylvian posted - as is his wont - he deleted it. Luckily, quick-acting fans copied and pasted it. If you're into the group, it makes for compelling reading. See below...
Japan were in the middle of their last tour. At the end of it they would break up, which seemed insane. It had taken six years for them to move from being unknowns to Britain’s most influential rock group.
I’d signed them in 1976 after I’d auditioned David Batt at Wigmore Hall Studios. He turned up in hippy sandals and jeans with long blonde hair down to his waist and an acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder. In the studio he eyed me disdainfully, as if he were doing the auditioning, not me. It wasn’t just his looks that won me over, it was his voice and his rambling songs with their strange lyrics, “She keeps her love in a carrier bag”.
With him came a group. On drums was Dave's brother, Steve, only 16 and a dead ringer for young Elvis. The bass player was “Mick” Michaelides, their best friend, with down-to-the-waist hair to match David's, but orange. On keyboards was Richard Barbieri, thicker-set and more cautious than the other three, but like the others from the same school in Lewisham. And on guitar was Rob Dean, from North London, acquired through an ad in Melody Maker.
I put the group into a recording studio, got some examples of their best songs, then sent them off to a photo session. When I had the perfect picture I put together a smart-looking package and sent it to every A&R man in London. It wasn't the first time my enthusiasm had blinded me to the realities of the music business. In the 60s I'd got much the same reaction when I first sent out tapes of Marc Bolan. I should have remembered that A&R men immediately turn down anything that doesn't sound exactly like the current best-selling artist. They have no understanding of being prepared for the next change in style or the next development.
Among the stack of depressing rejection letters were two which stood out. One was from someone at RCA: 'If you change the group's bass-player and find someone who knows how to play, I might be prepared to listen again’. The other was from an A&R man at CBS. “This group has potential. Unfortunately, we are not in the potential business.” (Presumably the reason for them hiring an A&R man who had none.)
It was a bad start but I persevered more than I’d ever persevered before. David changed his surname to Sylvian, his brother to Jansen, and Mick to Karn. It took a year to get a record deal, two years to get their first record released, three years to play the first UK gig that broke even, four years to be taken seriously.
But after five years Japan were one of the most influential groups in Britain. David’s new bouffant hairstyle had been stolen by Duran Duran. The sound of Mick’s fretless bass had become the backbone of Paul Young’s hits. Richard’s flowing synth lines were heard in every emerging group. As were Steve’s drum syncopations. And when their new album Tin Drum came out it was the successes of the year, setting them up to break America.
Then things went wrong...
Mick had a Japanese girlfriend to whom he was devoted - he was learning Japanese and had settled down domestically. But one day he came home to find she'd left him for David. The group came to me and said they were breaking up. It was apparent there was no point trying to persuade them otherwise, but I told them, “For the sake of your future solo careers, don't announce it yet. That way you'll continue to have the status of being part of a top group while you each sort out what you want to do with yourselves. Meanwhile I'll tell the press Japan are working on their next album.”
During that year we released three Japan singles, all of them big hits – Ghosts, Cantonese Boy, and I Second that Emotion. I was playing for time and I hoped to keep them together. After three months I persuaded them to play a final tour starting in a further four months time. When the tickets were put on sale they sold out at once. It was a long wait, but on the first night I held my breath - going on tour again, being onstage, receiving rapturous applause – surely it would bring them back together again.
But the answer was “No!”
On the first night, billing and cooing in the dressing-room with David, was Mick's ex-girlfriend. Mick refused to go in. And from there on it was inevitable.
After a British finale of six consecutive nights at Hammersmith Odeon, the group went on to Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan. Even till the last day I thought, “This band just CANNOT be breaking up.” But after the last gig in Nagoya, they did.
Inconceivable really that they could play so tightly, appear so cohesive, yet still walk off stage and separate, just like that. I felt there had to be more to it than just the domestic relocation of Mick’s girlfriend, and in due course I realised there was.
Maybe one day I should write the book.

DS : '"simon, come on, this is utter BS. have you forgotten the dinner prior to your hearing Tin Drum in which you told me to break up the band? That you'd been talking mick into believing he was ready for a solo career and I should be thinking along the same lines? You were still playing puppet master. 'You're in danger of becoming a band that everyone's heard of but no one's actually heard' . I insisted we'd recorded our strongest album, you doubted this. Hedging your bets you said 'Of course, if you're right I'll be persuading you to stay together'. I spoke with mick and he said you'd been whispering in his ear about a solo career and that he wanted to go for it (he'd been telling yuka the same but with no animosity aimed at me as there was none between us. She said he only ever spoke respectfully. He just wanted to find his own voice) but would like to keep the band together (as a safety net). I asked him to choose one over the other and he claimed he couldn't, so I chose for him. If everyone was pulling together for the band it made no sense to have someone hold back and start writing for themselves, not at that stage in our development when the songwriting was beginning to open up. It was you who sowed the seeds of discontent because I'd stopped listening to your 'advice'. You only enjoyed management when it was like a game of chess, moving pieces on a board. To place yuka, who has never publicly defended herself, never will, in the middle of all this, upsets me greatly as she remains my dearest friend (she was never anywhere near the Tin Drum tour. These deviations from the truth seem like simple fabrication for the sake of after dinner chatter but it has actually impacted all of our lives). After trying to work on his sculpture and music, and without okaying it with me, mick said he couldn't work with yuka around and asked her to 'go over to david's house' (as you know, we all lived in the same Square). yuka didn't wish to intrude so she'd walk around London, window shopping, until it got dark and too cold for her. She then asked me if she could kill a couple of hours until she could go home (6pm being the set time). Mick sent her to my home repeatedly after that, again, without ever speaking to me about the inconvenience or otherwise. yuka did her best to stay away until the November cold got to her then she'd perch on my couch and drink tea whilst I worked. Eventually, mick ask her to move out permanently. She came to me in tears and I said 'stay'. It was that simple, but it's been made into a drama when, anyone who knew mick knows this was, or became, his modus operandi. Ask his partners to leave and, once gone, claim them back. It got him into some deep water over the years. I could offer a lot more on the subject of mick's mental state, for example, his intolerance for one member of the band whom he fought to have removed from day one until the last sessions of Tin Drum, but that's not my place. He very rapidly moved onto working on his solo career just as you'd advised him. ("mick will be a star because he'll do all the things you refuse to you. Saturday morning kids shows, page 3, etc. And, regrettably, he took your advice"). Some members of the public feel the need to take sides on the matter of my friendship with mick but it's no one's business but our own and those who, for many years, stirred the pot behind the scenes. The last time I saw mick alive was just prior to my mixing RTC. Must've been 90/91. He asked to meet for coffee. I remember it well. The Dome, which used to stand on a corner of King's Rd, a short walk from my place in Chelsea. During that conversation he told me three things I'll never forget. 'You did a great job producing RTC (no one had acknowledged I'd done any such thing until that moment)/You bring out the best in me/would you consider producing my next album?' .. I was flattered and happy to be asked and said 'absolutely'. I never saw him again and was denied a place at his deathbed due to the interventions of others (one message apparently reached him before he passed, that I'd referred to him in an interview as my brother as, despite everything that'd gone down between us, he was. I was told this was well received). This is my story, my truth if you will. It's something I've not shared until now (I'll not tell the true stories behind the making of the band as it'd hurt too many people. Knowing this has encouraged others to fabricate all manner of 'truths'). You did ask me to keep the break up of the band from the press for one year until a final tour in '82. I agreed based on your explanation that the band would need an influx of cash to help them get on their feet after we (publicly) broke up. That you took your percentage from the gross income from the tour and not the net denied the band from having any earnings to speak of once the tour was over. I confronted you on this matter and you said, as ever, with a smile, that it wasn't your concern how much we spent on lighting and set design and you were within your rights to skim from the top. I disagreed with you then and do to this day. It was immoral of you to go back on your word. So much to be said, and yet I'm told I've already given my side of the story. I obviously haven't. But hearing this nonsense touted as truth, allowing it to stand in for the facts, wears me down. You walked away with money one way or another. Because of the way I'm made, I hold no grudge, but that's an easier position for me to take than for others for obvious reasons. You're a storyteller, it's what you now do (and of course you know full well why we could simply walk away from one another come the tour's end, you'd orchestrated the break). But you've been fucking around with the real lives of others, you've impacted them positively but also profoundly negatively. You have to own that before you too take your leave. We don't need more books on the subject as they're so far from the reality as lived. Let's leave things be and not perpetuate yet more erroneous myths."

Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Friday, 20 October 2017 20:55 (four months ago) Permalink

Just... wow.

Can anyone find David's statement regarding Mick's death? I recall it was touching but can't find it online.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 20 October 2017 21:47 (four months ago) Permalink


harbinger of failure (Jon not Jon), Friday, 20 October 2017 23:30 (four months ago) Permalink

SNB's reply. supposedly DS deleted his own original statement.

Hi David Sylvian - I love that you wrote that reply to my piece. I value your viewpoint and your memories of the situation. You're right I'm a storyteller; I enjoy nothing more than good raconteuring but try always to keep to the truth. Truths, of course, can differ from person to person but we should all do our best to write with honesty. In the course of managing a band many things are said to the individuals involved - to comfort, to cajole, to calm, to inspire - but in the end the manager's principal job is to keep the band productively together as long as possible, and if that fails then to try and help each of them on a path to a solo career. I thought I did pretty well at the first thing, not so good at the second. I'm sure your memories are correct for you, you have too much integrity for them not to be, and mine are correct for me. I remember only good times managing Japan, and much good humour.

piscesx, Saturday, 21 October 2017 00:19 (four months ago) Permalink

Richard Barbieri's captured but also deleted comment on that thread is also worth reading.

Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Saturday, 21 October 2017 00:19 (four months ago) Permalink

his comment on the original post by SNB, that is.

Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Saturday, 21 October 2017 00:24 (four months ago) Permalink

where could that be read?

new noise, Saturday, 21 October 2017 01:38 (four months ago) Permalink


Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Saturday, 21 October 2017 01:48 (four months ago) Permalink


new noise, Saturday, 21 October 2017 02:27 (four months ago) Permalink

Japan are like the last band I expected to have lots of drama kicked up years later on facebook.

Barbieri has always come across like a really good guy btw. I read an interesting interview with him recently. He sounds pretty broke considering he was in two fairly huge bands (Japan and Porcupine Tree) but also not at all bitter about things.

akm, Saturday, 21 October 2017 03:08 (four months ago) Permalink

SNB never lets accuracy get in the way of a good story - but he can be very entertaining.

More music managers should follow his example of posting reviews of their most memorable meals:

Luna Schlosser, Saturday, 21 October 2017 10:17 (four months ago) Permalink

Wow that was illumanating..,Sylvian seems to be quite confessional of late like he’s unburdening himself...maybe it comes as you get older...finally got round to listening to the tracks Gerald sent me...had most of them but a few gaps...the new tracks that appeared on his soundcloud account are great particularly ‘Modern Interior’ but ‘Blue Of Noon’ is sounding lovely especially this time of year...wish he release a new album of song based material...the one offs he’s released (If you think you know me now, I should not dare, A certain slant of light) are among his best work in years...

X-Prince Protégé (sonnyboy), Saturday, 21 October 2017 17:56 (four months ago) Permalink

Barbieri has always come across like a really good guy btw. I read an interesting interview with him recently.

Don't suppose you have a link to that?
There's so much tension apparent Japan's best material. I had always assumed that it was because Sylvian was a harsh taskmaster, but the dysfunction described above throws a whole new light on the band's dynamics.

Vast Halo, Saturday, 21 October 2017 20:37 (four months ago) Permalink

guessing this was the interview

new noise, Saturday, 21 October 2017 21:19 (four months ago) Permalink

Japan are like the last band I expected to have lots of drama kicked up years later on facebook.

You're kidding me, right!? Out of all of the bands of that era, Japan and Bauhaus would be top of the list.

Gholdfish Killah (Turrican), Saturday, 21 October 2017 21:56 (four months ago) Permalink

Oh yeah

Mark G, Saturday, 21 October 2017 22:15 (four months ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

BTW to tide us all over while we we wait for another release, I just came upon this incredible song from his 2003-4 Fire in the Forest tour that is otherwise unreleased:


It’s an amazing performance – and seemingly a really raw take on his divorce. Among my favorite things he’s done post-Blemish.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 19 November 2017 17:03 (three months ago) Permalink

I'm getting an error with that link. What is the track/performance?

Just a random anecdote: A few weeks ago I was in a bar in Roppongi that seemed to be dedicated to and frequented by people who enjoyed early 80's music. The bartender decided to throw on something decidedly not early 80's: 'Adolescent Sex' by Japan. When I expressed my delight that I was actually hearing ANYONE EVER playing and enjoying this album in public, we sat and listened to the whole thing on a fantastic sound system. Such a wonderful little moment of life.

yesca, Sunday, 19 November 2017 20:41 (three months ago) Permalink

This this:


It’s Wasn’t I Joe.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 19 November 2017 20:52 (three months ago) Permalink

is that Ryoji Ikeda?

Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Sunday, 19 November 2017 21:12 (three months ago) Permalink

Masakatsu Takagi on live video projections. It was just DS and Steve Jansen playing the music.

doug watson, Sunday, 19 November 2017 21:54 (three months ago) Permalink

Wasn't I Joe is a total classic.

His best unreleased track?

mr.raffles, Monday, 20 November 2017 04:48 (three months ago) Permalink

If not, it's damn close.

Naive Teen Idol, Monday, 20 November 2017 15:04 (three months ago) Permalink

It's terrific. I'm still holding out some hope that one day we'll get to hear Sylvian's "watery, slowed-down" version of Propaganda's "Duel" that may or may not only exist in Paul Morley's head. (During PM's brief attempt to get Sylvian to produce them; he wrote the essence of p-Machinery, played on it, but that was about it).

Michael Jones, Monday, 20 November 2017 15:29 (three months ago) Permalink

Holy cow, new unheard Sylvian from one of my favorite periods! Thanks for posting this, any other unreleased gems floating around the ether?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 20 November 2017 19:11 (three months ago) Permalink

Also, where's the sample from?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 20 November 2017 19:17 (three months ago) Permalink

a beckett play, Eh Joe

yes, this is absolutely one of his best unreleased songs (though I guess that DVD of the performance was an official release? dunno. no idea if a studio version of this was ever attempted). It's also the most incredibly sad and depressing thing Sylvian ever recorded

akm, Monday, 20 November 2017 20:11 (three months ago) Permalink

why is The Healing Place from Gone to Earth the most listened to David Sylvian track on Spotify? was it in a movie or a tv show?

Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Friday, 1 December 2017 17:43 (two months ago) Permalink

Inclusion on a Spotify playlist.
I think there are a couple of chill instrumentals w disproportionate play counts in his top 10, right?

mr.raffles, Saturday, 2 December 2017 01:52 (two months ago) Permalink

yes, i wondered about that. I've only just started using spotify so i'm not sure how all of that works.

Susan Stranglehands (jed_), Saturday, 2 December 2017 02:34 (two months ago) Permalink

Silver Moon Over Sleeping Steeple has even more plays in the US. And I was asking myself just the same question this morning.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 2 December 2017 04:06 (two months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Happy 60th, Sylvo!

mr.raffles, Saturday, 24 February 2018 04:26 (seven hours ago) Permalink

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.