The mind- altering fungi has turned your brain cells to glowing embers. You lie on your back, looking past a gathering of treetops in the bamboo forest. But the trees aren't really trees; they're actually large wind instruments growing out of the ground.
Mother Nature controls the valves and blows a light, steady stream of air up from the earth's core, and through a copse of tree- woodwinds. Now there's a huge multi- layered drone backing up the high notes of harmonizing hummingbirds, while wood- nymphs whistle along. Wolves give digeridoo howls.
Woodpeckers tap out their staccato percussion, a chorus of crickets chirp their accompaniment, and a rhythmically- inclined panda bear pounds on hollow tree stumps in the distance. All the sounds are in perfect unison like some vast aboriginal orchestra.
But this is no ordinary trip, you're experiencing David Sylvian's organically- grown multiform sound- universe. Alright, nevermind the Kerouac-ian bullshit. But you get the idea. I mean, Dead Bees on a Cake isn't exactly akin to the incidental soundtrack music of some boring nature film made by Gorp- chomping hippie conservationists.
There's a certain rare meld of both primal and postmodern compositional sense being applied here. Sylvian blends his different ethnic influences seamlessly, in a manner that shames the trendy world- beat affectations making appearances on so many British and American songwriters' albums. And sure, sometimes Sylvian's only a pan flute coo or zither- pluck away from officially crossing into Windham Hill territory, and joining the lifetime opening- for- Kitaro circuit.
But hey. Having been a member of synth- rock pioneers Japan, I guess it seems only natural that Sylvian would eventually record with someone authentically Japanese. Dead Bees on a Cake is nothing less than a continuation of Sylvian's eclectic series of genre- hopping solo albums-- the best of which is probably his first major collaborative effort with Sakamoto, 's Brilliant Trees.
When you're like Sylvian-- able to attract the likes of Robert Fripp who plays on 's God's Monkey , Bill Frisell, and Talvin Singh and have them function as your sidemen-- you know you've finally become that semi- obscure but critically- acclaimed rock enigma you've always dreamed of becoming, right?
Even Marc Ribot decides to contribute some inimitable guitar work on this latest album, miraculously tearing himself away from his busy schedule playing with every single musician in New York City. Dead Bees leads off with the spare, soul- drenched "I Surrender," and gives some foreshadowing of what's to come.
Ribot's traditional jazz octave- playing shares space with abbreviated flugelhorn parts, flute, and tape- looped guitar ornamentation the funk- inflected churn of "God Man" suggests Mitchell Froom could have had his busy paws on the mixing board at some point, although there's no documented proof. But in many cases, just a guitar and vocals are apparently enough to satisfy Sylvian. For instance, on "Dobro 1," Bill Frisell handles the dobro duties while Sylvian simply sings. Or you may get an arrangement like the one on "Pollen Path," consisting of slide guitar, samples, drums, and Sakamoto on "insects.
Each track comes together in the sense that no one instrument or effect is ever really featured over another-- and that includes Sylvian's low, breathy vocals. His vocal cadences fit snugly around whatever instrumentation happens to be floating about. The songs also benefit from Sakamoto's arranging expertise, in that he seems to know exactly where and when to add the odd orchestral quirk, appropriate sound snippets, or coordinate a string or brass arrangement.
An example of the opposite is the almost embarrasing eastern influenced instrumentation in "Krishna Blue". Not nice. Just not nice. It sounds so superficial and forced that I cringe with embarrasment. So the album has both really great features and unfortunately some not so great ones too.
The production while very professional is a bit too polished. I just feel there are too many negative things regarding the album to warrant a higher rating. The 9 minutes are nothing if not repetitive, yet they pass like an effortless paddle down a fresh mellow river, verse after verse and chorus after chorus recounting a man coming to terms with the necessity of vulnerability.
Lilting fills of flute and guitar provide subtle support. Other songs that conjure earlier magic are "Thalheim", the delicately orchestrated "The Shining of Things", and the romantically accessible "Cafe Europa". These alone offer more than enough for the fan who yearns for the old days.
Like a consummate artist, Sylvian also adopts a variety of newer mannerisms. Some work better than others. The best of the more blues oriented numbers is the surprisingly spot-on "Midnight Sun", where he brings his already low voice down another register to impressive effect. The sumptuous "Darkest Dreaming" that closes the disk represents a blend of his ambient and poppy sides. As on most indulgent recordings, several shots are fired well wide of the target.
Specifically, "God Man"'s message is buried in cliches both musical and lyrical, and its raucousness, also practiced by "Pollen Path" and "All My Mother's Names", doesn't suit this artist one bit. A couple of the later cuts never seem to emerge from the background, which only underscores the wonder at how often he does succeed at such a daunting task.
Back in the LP days, the best tracks here, wisely sequenced, would easily attain 5 star credibility, so "Dead Bees" represent so much more than the icing on the cake for this elegant artist. David Sylvian is one of my weaknesses. His class is unique, his voice and singing style is inimitable. Maybe not as progressive or changeable as some would like or somewhat monotonous, but imposing your style with authority. And creator of sublime atmospheres, within emotional or spiritual con You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.
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Toggle navigation. Go to the shop. Dead Bees On A Cake. Release date:. March 29, Virgin Records Ltd. Dead Bees On A Cake advanced promo. Time Spent Electronic Press Kit. I Surrender advanced, UK. I Surrender advanced, US. The challenge really was to keep the whole thing feeling very organic, like there was a group of people playing together, that sonically it sounded very much a part of a whole, which was quite a challenge actually.
Probably a greater challenge than actually putting the arrangements together. Sylvian said about the album . So many avenues just ended in a kind of a dead end. Using a great deal of new technology this time, a lot of files were lost along the way, but that wasn't the only problem. Certainly working with different musicians, a couple of producers, I just put a halt to the project numerous times. And at the same time I'd moved to the United States, I'd got married, I had my first child and I was very much involved in that life.
I was just so involved in the bringing up of my first daughter and following a far more intensely spiritual path and a spiritual discipline, and that was kind of leading me away from a concentrated focus on music. And every time I returned to the work I liked what I heard, but again every time I got re-immersed in it I would come up against an obstacle of some kind. I just thought it did not want to be completed and thought that maybe this was it. I was happy with the work.
It was poorly received, but it did bring my relationship with Virgin Records to an end. I didn't realise how much that would mean to me, but it really did liberate me, and I only recognised that fact once I was in the studio recording Blemish and realising that I really didn't have to go round to sell this idea to anyone. It really opened things up for me, moving away from a major label like that". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
David Sylvian. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5th concise ed. Omnibus Press. Retrieved 12 February Archived from the original on 17 August Retrieved 13 June The Good Son vs. Oil on Canvas. Snow Borne Sorrow Money for All. Ember Glance: The Permanence of Memory. Authority control MusicBrainz release group. Hidden categories: CS1 maint: url-status Articles with short description Short description is different from Wikidata Use dmy dates from November Use British English from February Articles with hAudio microformats Album articles lacking alt text for covers Articles with MusicBrainz release group identifiers.
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