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GONE TO EARTH

David Sylvian

Crossover Prog


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3 stars This is a good effort by prog rock experimenter and pioneer DAVID SYLVIAN along with such heavywieghts ROBERT FRIPP,BILL NELSON,MEL COLLINS,BJ COLE and many others! The record version of this release is a double lp,but I am pretty sure that the cd version is a single. In any case what we have here are two lps in one really. The first has songs with lyrics and some even sound a bit popish for my taste(this was released in 1986 after all!).The secnd lp is more ambient and electronica oriented. Some very soothing soundscapes ala FRIPPOTRONICS. In many ways reminds me of some of the work done later by ambient pioneers ROBERT RICH and STEVEN ROACH. All in all,a collection worth having and one that showcases both sides of the talented artist DAVID SYLVIAN.

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Send comments to bob x (BETA) | Report this review (#33187)
Posted Sunday, January 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album was finally re-issued recently as a deluxe 2-CD set, with all the original material from the 2-LP set plus some bonus material. The original CD release deleted several instrumental tracks so that it would fit on one disc. There are a lot of great musicians (Robert Fripp, Bill Nelson, Mel Collins, B. J. Cole, and some Japan-mates) helping DS make this a wonderful release with two distinct feels. First you get the songs, a few of which rank with the best he's done. I especially like "Silver Moon". The instrumental tracks are reminiscent of some of Brian Eno's work with Harold Budd or "Music For Films"-era stuff, except that they may have a bit more sophistication and instrumentation. The sound quality is excellent, and the remixed version of "River Man" is better than the original.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#33188)
Posted Monday, January 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#134136)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gone to Earth is the third studio album from former Japan frontman David Sylvian. Gone to Earth was originally the second studio album though as Alchemy - An Index of Possibilities (1985) is more a collection of songs from different projects and shouldnīt as such be considered a full studio album. But knowing the style of music David Sylvian plays on Alchemy - An Index of Possibilities helps if you want to understand the style he is playing on Gone to Earth. Gone to Earth was originally an ambitious two-record ( LP) set where the first LP consisted of songs with vocals while the second LP consisted solely of ambient new age music.

Note that early CD re-releases omit the three tracks: Camp Fire: Coyote Country, A Bird of Prey Vanishes Into a Bright Blue Cloudless Sky and Sunlight Seen Through Towering Trees. All three tracks from the second ( ambient) LP. The remastered version of Gone to Earth from 2003 is a two CD edition which includes all the double LP tracks plus remixes of River Man, Gone to Earth and Camp Fire:Coyote Country. The remixes bookend CD one.

CD one is the highlight for me as I mostly enjoy David Sylvianīs music because of his warm, emotional and pleasant voice. The music on CD one is very good too though and songs like the opener Taking The Veil, the beautiful Before The Bullfight which is my favorite on the album and the noisy title track are all excellent examples of why David is such a respected musician. He really has the ability to touch me which is something that rarely happens to me while listening to music these days. The second CD doesnīt do much for me, but itīs not boring or bad by any means, just not my style and I donīt listen to it much. If I do itīs mostly pleasant background muzak.

The musicianship is excellent. Thereīs lots of synth in the music but also flugelhorn which gives the music a melancholic touch. Note the great rythm section too. Robert Fripp ( King Crimson) guests with some of his trademark Frippertronics and adds a bit of spice to some of the compositions.

The production is warm and pleasant and actually Iīm a bit amased that Gone to Earth is an eighties album. If I didnīt know it I would have thought it was from the nineties.

Gone to Earth is an unusual pop/ rock album and perfectly showcases why itīs important that a musicians like David Sylvian is present on PA. If only more pop/ rock artists would dare to challenge conventional songwriting like David Sylvian the world would be a better place to live ( LOL). Well for all my praises Iīm only gonna give Gone to Earth a 3 star rating and thatīs mostly due to the background muzak of the second LP ( CD) which I would have given 2 stars if it had been released on itīs own and as the first LP ( CD) deserves a small 4 star rating in my book Iīll make an average and say 3 stars. The first part of the album is highly recommendable for people who like unusual melancholic new age pop/ rock with an occasional world music touch though.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#192729)
Posted Friday, December 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Former Japan frontman third solo album. Robert Fripp and Mel Collins participate.

Very interesting experimental music. Mix of post-Japan synthesizers driven music with Crimsonian moments. Sylvian voice is cold, a bit androidal ( remind me Gary Numan voice, electronics sounds remind Gary Numan music as well!). Music is mid-tempo, based on dark ambient and post new romantics electronics beat. But in pplaces all this music is scented by Fripp frippertronics.

I believe, that the sound is to everyone taste. Someone will hate sinthesizer based rhythms ( remind new wave in a moments), slow "teasing" tempo, cold music and cold vocal. But all this basis is covered by Fripp guitar acrobatics and Mel Collins sax .

Very interesting album, not only for Fripp/KC maniacs, but for everyone, who has no allergy to experimental part of synthesizers post new wave.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#248396)
Posted Friday, November 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This album was my introduction to David Sylvian's solo works. I happen to have the 2 LP album and the shortened CD, but I'll review the full version here.

The album is quite obviously two distinct pieces. The first record is the better of the two, with actual songs. It starts out sounding very much like Japan, with Ian Maidman taking the place of Mick Karn on fretless bass. And it's the guest musicians that really make this album. Aside from Japan-mates Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri, there's Bill Nelson, Kenny Wheeler, Mel Collins and St. Robert of Fripp.

The guests are necessary, as Sylvian has this tendency to sound like his vocal melodies are made up on the spot over the instrumental tracks, giving all of his songs a sameness that can get tedious without the nice guitars, horns, etc.

The second LP is very pastoral, almost ambient music, similar to some of Eno's work before he went completely narcoleptic. I suppose the album is okay as background noise when reading, but if you are attempting to listen to this for fun, good luck.

LP1: 3.5 stars LP2: 2.5 stars

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#480837)
Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Do my ears deceive me or is that the mighty Mick Karn on bass in the opener? Even the sleeve notes don't help... In my opinion he was the best wobbly bass player of all time, better than Pastorius and Pekka Pohjola, even though Mick plagiarised them both.

"Gone to Earth" sounds more experimental than 'Brilliant Trees' and is a far, far heavier album to listen to. After the pretty, but weird 'Laughter and Forgetting' which focuses on Sylvian's off key voice and a discordant piano everything collapses into a black hole in space... Starting with the miserable, but superb "Before the Bullfight' - all 10 minutes of it! - with it's heavy reverb and booming slow echoed drums - which sounds like the end of the world. This quickly splices to the highly unusual title track which has a tune sung by Sylvian where every musical note seems all over the place, random and is undercut by a truly mental growly Robert Fripp guitar.

Only recently have I come to realise that this is actually a very Prog album, something that had never struck me before with any of Sylvian's works.

'Wave' continues with the gloominess of the preceding tracks but once again has some superb drumming by his brother Steve Jansen. Flatline depressing vocals are accentuated with the inclusion of Fripp and his weird bendy springy sounds that sound nothing like the guitar he is playing. Fantastic!

The highlight has to be be 'Riverman' - almost a remnant of Japan's 'Sons of Pioneers' - the best track on 'Tin Drum' from '81. Bass heavy and slick, with a double vocal track by Sylvian and some Fripp tweakery in the background.

There's such an array of unusual tunes on this album that you won't be aware of until afterwards (like me 25 years later) where you think to yourself 'where the hell did those odd, weird out of place notes come from, and why do they fit?'

The only let down is 'Silver Moon' which by itself would have been okay, but is lost in a sea of magnificence... drowned out by continual beauty from beginning to end,

The second half of 'Gone to Earth' is instrumental with Fripp, Sylvian and Bill Nelson at the helm. Some of which is just utterly beautiful: 'Answered Prayers' and; Wooden Cross' to name but two. These last 40 minute sound like being stuck on a desert island with no means of escape, where you just say to yourself... 'Bugger'

Sometimes words can't do justice to an album of such perfection.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#594422)
Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars David Sylvian - Gone to Earth 2lp (1986)

Not my usual cup of tea, but since I'm a vinyl collector I can sometimes buy interesting records for less then a serious cup of coffee, so here it is. To be honest, I bought it because Robert Fripp (of King Crimson fame) and Mel Collins (King Crimson, Camel & others) play along on some tracks.

David Sylvian (ex-Japan) is a multi-instrumentalist and song-writer. Gone to Earth is a long album that features a slightly artistic form of wave or perhaps even new age music. Slow, abstract and bathing in atmospheres the music develops around minimal concepts that get pretty interesting in the end. The cool, soft voice of Sylvian completes the style. With some solo's of Fripp now and then tracks of lp1 can get quite interesting, though most tracks are good. None of them stand out, but that's part of the abstract wave sound I guess. On lp2 the tracks are instrumental, mostly based one a single idea that get's worked out and then fades away.

The interesting part of this album is not what it delivers in for example song-writing and musicianship, but what it leaves open. There some spaciousness in every composition that is hard to pin down. The music doesn't pretend to be the main attraction and is clearly made for relaxation and slowing down. In the mean while some very interesting atmospheres are created, mainly on lp1 I must say.

Conclusion. An abstract wave/new age record that I find useful because of it's relaxing effect. Nothing sound too important, and nothing bothers me either. Three stars, recommended to listeners of before-mentioned genres and Fripp-completionists.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#605641)
Posted Sunday, January 08, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#935045)
Posted Monday, March 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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