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David Sylvian - Gone to Earth CD (album) cover

GONE TO EARTH

David Sylvian

 

Crossover Prog

3.56 | 69 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The rabbits have fled their burrows

For his third solo album, David Sylvian assembled a fine gathering of aides, including his former Japan band-mates, Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson, B.J. Cole and producer Steve Nye. What evolved was an intriguing double LP.

The first album is the tighter, with Sylvian working within what amounts to a band line up. While not exactly pop, the songs are among the most accessible Sylvian has created. The tracks are reasonably long, two running to over nine minutes. The pick of the bunch is probably "Wave", where Sylvian's vocals are at their most melodic and atmospheric. As with the other tracks, the structure of the song is straightforward, but the arrangement, which includes some fine flugelhorn played by Harry Beckett is excellent. "Laughter and forgetting" also has flugelhorn, but this time it is played by Kenny Wheeler.

Richard Barbieri (later of Porcupine Tree) adds some excellent atmospherics to "Before the bullfight", the heavy percussion contrasting superbly with Wheelers horn playing. Bill Nelson appears on guitar for the first time on this track, his contributions being one of the album's highlights. The title track is pared back to featuring just Sylvian and Fripp, but is the poorest of the tracks on the first LP. The lyrics are typically obscure but the song lacks cohesion: And though voices may holler for all they're worth, the rabbits have fled their burrows, Gone to earth.

"Silver moon" is one of the most accessible pieces by Sylvian, yet it is a majestic song with superb pedal steel guitar played by BJ Cole and sax by Mel Collins.

The second album is entirely instrumental apart from from mumbled spoken words early on. It is primarily ambient, with sparse arrangements and slow washes of sound. The guest musicians are much sparser too, with a maximum of just one per track; they usually play guitar, backed by Sylvian's keyboard atmospheres. Bill Nelson contributes to three tracks, the opening "The healing place" sounding similar to Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross". Elsewhere, Robert Fripp's guitar on "Camp fire, Coyote country" sounds similar to that of Mark Knopfler's fine soundtrack to "Local Hero", the track also being reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's excellent "Oh well part 2".

The entire second album could effectively be a single track, such is the single paced ambience of the music. After a couple of tracks, I am left hoping for something even a little different, but it is not to be. Thus, the second album is pleasant but undemanding and ultimately dull.

The original CD version ruthlessly curtails the material on the second LP, with three of the nine tracks omitted altogether. While it is quite understandable that there should be some editing to allow the material to fit on a single disc, sufficient space remains for at least a one more track. Thus the LP is far better presented, the two LPs offering a natural split between the different styles of music they contain.

In all though, an album of two halves (if we stick to the double LP). The first album contains some of Sylvian's finest material, while the second sees him indulging himself in pleasant but forgettable soundscapes.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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