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David Sylvian - Alchemy - An Index of Possibilities  CD (album) cover

ALCHEMY - AN INDEX OF POSSIBILITIES

David Sylvian

 

Crossover Prog

3.17 | 36 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars With this second solo album, the experience of Japan can be considered close for David Sylvian. From my point of view this is a good thing as I've never been a fan of 80s glam-pop- dark-new wave stuff.

Alchemy is an athmospheric album with a strong ethnic/oriental flavour but with many relations with Krautrock, too. The mini-suit "Words with the Shaman", maybe because of the effort of the former CAN Holger Czukay has a strong connection with it, specially in the first part. The second part is more lectronic and sounds very 80s (fairlight(?) and electronic drumming). It makes me think to Richard Wright's "ZEE - Identity" because of the sounds and their darkness, but the ethnic element is still in evidence. The third part is very ambient, instead, even if the sound continues to be dated to the 80s. Not all the 80s were bad, of course, and this album represents a good moment in a bad period for music. The whole suite is probably more "newage" than progressive, but it's really good. The trumpet (flugelhorn?) of the third part reminds to Mark Isham.

A chord reminiscent of a Sitar opens "The Stigma Of Childhood". It's a musical mantra. Imagine a Tibetan temple on the Himalayan heights. The mystic calm that emanates from this track is great. Meditative. Between Mark Isham(Tibet) and Tangerine Dream(Zeit).

"A Brief Conversation Ending In" is contemporary classic, instead. The disharmonic sounds, mainly by keyboards and piano, are from a different level of reality. Stockhausen meets the Tangerine Dream.

Finally "Steel Cathedral" is the album's epic. A keyboard chord grows very slowly from silence. Little variations remind again to the early Tangerine Dream. No more newage. This is space rock and the reference is again Zeit. Background voices like in Vangelis "Mare Tranquillitatis" bring the listener to the outer space. Percussive accents join after 5 minutes, then the flugelhorn (or the trumpet?) enhances the experience. It's the sound of "Blade Runner Blues", but also of Mark Isham's Tibet. Since now the track developes with piano, guitar, percussions, without losing the original mood. Variation after variation we are now in a jazzy suite. The French voice that appears here and there is very appropriate while piano and guitar fill the blanks.

Let's add to the above that the lineup includes people like Robert Fripp and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

I'm sometimes too meditative and I pay a tribute to the fact that I've been addicted to newage for a period of my life, but I think that this is an excellent album that deserves a place in every prog discography.

4 stars

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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