Saturday, August 15, 2009

David Sylvian and deluxe designs

Time for more adventures in musical whiplash!

A few weeks ago, David Sylvian announced the release of his forthcoming, solo offering, "Manafon", which brings together a clutch of new songs recorded with some of the world's most renowned and well respected, improvisational musicians.

From the sound of the clips available on his newly redesigned website, it seems like he's continuing to push the envelope even further than he did with "Blemish", his last, solo longplayer.

David Sylvian has always challenged the listener by exploring all angles and avenues of ambient work and esoteric pop. These sounds and styles have become the hallmarks with which he's most associated.

From the looks of things, it seems David is cutting a more Bowie-esque shape these days. To me, he was always a part of an inspiring, arty and slighty arch trifecta that includes David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.

The tracklisting for "Manafon" has been revealed as follows:

1. Small Metal Gods
2. The Rabbit Skinner
3. Random Acts Of Senseless Violence
4. The Greatest Living Englishman
5. 125 Spheres
6. Snow White In Appalachia
7. Emily Dickinson
8. The Department Of Dead Letters
9. Manafon

There's lots to explore on his website. For instance, you can hear opening number, "Small Metal Gods", in its entirety, accompanied by a video directed by Hiraki Sawa. The song has a faint, blues tinged underpinning. It is typically sparse and fluid with his gorgeous, honey coated tenor guiding the listener on a sonic journey of discovery and immerses them in a delicate, shimmering, intimate space. It sounds especially lovely on headphones.

Since I am a self-proclaimed, packaging whore and aficionado - the two can exist in perfect harmony - it's essential that I give special mention and attention to the deluxe edition of "Manafon". As usual, David spares no expense in treating his fans to a sumptuous, beautifully detailed and truly collectable piece.

One of the most treasured pieces in my vast collection is "Weatherbox", a beautifully produced, limited edition, boxed set David released in 1989 . It features the albums "Brilliant Trees", "Alchemy", "Gone To Earth" and "Secrets Of The Beehive" in a package designed by artist Russell Mills in association with David and Yuka Fujii. At the time, it was the gold standard in artful, alternative packaging concepts.

The two-disc, box set edition of "Manafon" comes in two, separate, hard back, cloth bound volumes which are themselves inserted into a rigid, cloth bound slipcase. Each of the cloth bound items are adorned with gold, embossed lettering.

The first disc is a CD which comes packaged with a 40 page, full color, printed, perfect bound book featuring the complete lyrics from the album and is accompanied by artwork from artists Atsushi Fukui and Ruud Van Empel.

The second disc is a DVD featuring the filmed documentary, "Amplified Gesture". Packaged with it is a 24 page, full color, printed, perfect bound book and includes a foreword by Clive Bell, as well as photos and biographies of all of the contributors to the documentary. It also features the entire album in 5.1 surround sound.

More images of the deluxe edition of "Manafon" can be found here. Simply stunning.


  1. Thanks for the info and insights Vinny! Been a long time Sylvian fan so I'm very exicted for any new material from him!

  2. I worship Sylvian. Always have, always will...But he's working my last nerve with his current solo musical output. I know it'll never happen, but I would probably kill an innocent baby to get him to release a sequel to "Secrets of the Beehive." That album is perfection. On the positive side, "Manafon" has his best album cover in years. LOVE IT!