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David Sylvian - Gone to Earth CD (album) cover

GONE TO EARTH

David Sylvian

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 74 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars The funky and the fretless bass of the first track identify immediately this album in its decade, but even if in the middle of the 80s, between the first notes we can appreciate how in advance Sylvian was. The jazzy chill-out of "The Healing Place" together with his baritone vocals, like a low pitched Bowie, would be more well placed in the 90s. Another thing that comes to mind is the ZEE underrated album. Respect to that album we have a very impressive lineup: Mel Collins and Fripp and his Frippertronics, above all.

The slow ambient jazz of "Laughter & Forgetting" features a flugelhorn, a sound that sends my mind to the atmosphere of Blade Runner Blues or Mark Isham's Tibet. Short and very nice.

"Before the Bullfight" starts with ambient electronics, on which the electronic drums first, then a clean jazz guitar seem to be just waiting for the flugelhorn in the background. After few less than three minutes the warm voice of Sylvian arrives. The song develops on a different chords sequence, but sometimes the flugelhorn comes back. About 10 minutes of chill-out, not properly "dark ambient", but there's some darkness inside, enhanced by the bass vocals.

The title track is the one I suppose Fripp is more responsible of. It's like the melody has been composed on a "normal" base, then the chords and the sounds have been "frippertroniced" to transform it into something different. I'm not sure about Fripp playing on this song, but he is in the album and I think to hear him here.

Another "long" track, for the album's standards, comes. Also "Wave" has some dissonances inside which give it a more avantgarde feeling repsect to just 80s darkness. This song reminds me of the late Rick Wright's efforts on Broken China. Regardless the similarities with an album that I love, this song is not really my fav.

"Riverman" proceeds on the same line. The lazy proceeding of percussion setup a dreamy environment. Taken along this is a good song, but the whole album is made of this dark chill-out and this makes it suitable as background music, except for the short flugelhorn intermissions. This is an instrument which surely adds value to all the song it's present in.

The first LP is closed by "Silver Moon" which is a more "normal" song. Less dark and more radio-friendly than the rest of the album it has an unusual quantity, for Sylvian, of major chords. Mel Collins is excellent as always on his sax.

The second LP is instrumental only, but this fact gives more room to the clean lead guitar. "The Healing Place" could have had lyrics, but this dark and slow blues is really more effective without. Fans of late Floyd and of Porcupine Tree can find this track very appealing. Surely a highlight.

"Answered Prayers" is very borderline with newage, as well as many other artists during those years. If it wasn't for the guitar I could think of Vangelis, Isham, or even Lucia Hwong.

"Where the Railroad Meets the Sea" is another slow bluesy track based on few guitar repeated notes. A bit too dark to be called newage.

"The Wooden Cross" Sounds like a Tangerine Dream track of the Pink period. I mean Zeit, mainly. Of course I like it.

It's followed by "Silver moon over sleeping steeples" which is more newage oriented, even though some dissonances makes it sound more like the already mentioned Lucia Hwong. It looks like we are used (I am at least), to call newage the ambient music when it's not dark.

"The following track "Camp fire : Coyote country" Is even more calm, positive and relaxing. It's strange thinking to how far this music is from what he was doing with Japan.

With a title like " A bird of prey vanishes into a bright blue cloudless sky" one could have expected something different, but the track is not bad. Still this positive ambient music. If you like Yoga or other kinds of meditation it's fine. For my tastes I'd prefer something more intriguing.

"Home" is leading us to the end of the second LP. Looking at the vinyl surface it appears quite slick. Who comes from the vinyl days knows what I mean. Not bad, really. Only this IS newage.

"Sunlight seen through towering trees" sounds newage even in the title. A good test for the pickups quality. I have the impression of a Shakuyaki below, adding an oriental touch in the second half of the track.

The only voices that can be heard on this LP are on the closing track: "Upon This Earth". It's a speech that combined with the repetitive chords is very pleasant. It reminds me of Vangelis on China but again also Lucia Hwong comes to mind. this is the best track of the second LP in my opinion and a perfect closer if you have been able to survive up to here.

Depending on your tastes you can love the first and hate the second or vice versa. Complexively I think a correct rating is 3 stars as none of the two albums is fundamental in its genre. And we are effectively speaking of two different albums.

octopus-4 | 3/5 |

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