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David Sylvian

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David Sylvian Brilliant Trees album cover
3.77 | 119 ratings | 15 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Pulling Punches (5:01)
2. The Ink in the Well (4:29)
3. Nostalgia (5:39)
4. Red Guitar (5:07)
5. Weathered Wall (5:40)
6. Backwaters (4:49)
7. Brilliant Trees (8:35)

Total time 39:20

Bonus tracks on 1991 US edition:
8. Words With the Shaman, Pt. 1: Ancient... (5:14)
9. Words With the Shaman, Pt. 2: Incantation (3:31)
10. Words With the Shaman, Pt. 3: Awakening... (5:19)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Sylvian / vocals, guitar, synthesizer, treated piano, percussion, tapes, co-producer

- Holger Czukay / guitar, French horn, voice
- Ronny Drayton / guitar (1,4)
- Phil Palmer / guitar (2,4)
- Richard Barbieri / synthesizer (1,5)
- Steve Nye / synthesizer & piano (3,4), co-producer & mixing
- Ryuichi Sakamoto / synthesizer & piano (4,5,7)
- Kenny Wheeler / flugelhorn (2,3)
- Mark Isham / trumpet (4)
- Jon Hassell / trumpet (5,7)
- Wayne Brathwaite / bass (1,4)
- Danny Thompson / double bass (2)
- Steve Jansen / percussion, drums, synthesizer

Releases information

Artwork: Yuka Fujii (photo)

LP Virgin ‎- V2290 (1984, UK)

CD Virgin ‎- CDV2290 (1984, UK)
CD Virgin ‎- CDVX 2290 (2003, UK) Remastered by Tony Cousins with different cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy DAVID SYLVIAN Brilliant Trees Music

DAVID SYLVIAN Brilliant Trees ratings distribution

(119 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DAVID SYLVIAN Brilliant Trees reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Beautiful album hard on the heels with the demise of Japan, David Sylvian shows what a talented force he is. ' The Ink in The Well' and ' Nostalgia' have to be 2 of the most equisite soft ballads around and Syvian especially on ' Nostalgia' manages to set the mood for how this emotion comes about. Overall the album is very strong, it does meander a bit on the title track and lose it's waya little.' Words of The Shaman' are new to me and must be on a remaster CD only. It is definitely in the 4 star category.
Review by arcer
4 stars The track listing here refers to an expanded CD release featuring the original Brilliant Trees set (the first 7 tracks) plus part of the Alchemy - an Index of Possibilities mini-album, which initially was a cassette only release falling between Brilliant Trees and Sylvian's second solo album Gone to Earth. Brilliant Trees is a stunning debut. Moving emphatically away from the often brittle synth and fretless bass trademarks of Japan, Sylvian embraces a much more organic feel, acoustic and spanish guitars, upright bass, flugelhorn and trumpet etc. The stand-out tracks are Ink In the Well with its upright bass groove and flugelhorn solo, and weathered wall, which encapsulates a signature Sylvian sound of looping almost arabic drums, which form the framework for an atmospheric almost trancelike workout. Excellent.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I bought this album immediately upon its release back in 1985 or so, after reading a nice review in a local music magazine. Although not an "easy" work for the first listen, I was quickly emerged into the magic Sylvian's world of exotic rhytms, ambient sounds, melodic bass, acoustic and sophisticated arrangements and above all, the warm/cold Sylvians singing, often similar to Bowie or Ferry's. The collaborators include his old-time JAPAN members, R. Barbieri and S. Jansen, ex-CAN Holger Czukay, renouned producer/composer R. Sakamoto and amazing sound of trumpet of the avangarde-jazz player Jon Hassell, among others. This is an eclectic mix of jazz, pop, funk, avangarde, ethnic rhytms and ambient electronics, mingling the early ROXY MUSIC, mid-seventies Eno/Bowie artwork, sophistication of Gabriel solo or later TALK TALK post-rock aestetics. A true masterpiece that was highly neglected due to its non-commercial and non-pop attitude, much closer to "serious" music as a form of pure art but very different from classical or symphonic music. A unique work that must be planted in any self-respecting music collection, cultivated and let it grow slowly until it reach a fruitful enjoyment.

N.B. "Words With Shaman" is included in many CD re-issues and, while not an integral part of the album itself, it is good if you like ambient music and especially Jon Hassell's trumpet. This review refers only to the original 7-tracks album.

Review by evenless
2 stars Why did I try David Sylvian ?

I gues because I love Porcupine Tree and PT's Richard Barbieri was in Japan together with David Sylvian. There must be stranger ways to try out some new stuff right?! And what a deception it was for me... I bought this album together with 'Gone to Earth' and was expecting a lot after the positive reviews I read on those albums. Unfortunately David Sylvian doesn't 'do it' to me. And belive me: I tried both albums multiple times, but they just wouldn't become any better. I guess this will be my only review on David Sylvian because:

1) I don't like to write negative reviews 2) I don't want to make David Sylvian fans mad oir sad and 3) I already sold the DS CD's again on eBay and will continue listening to Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Opeth and the German band Sylvan. (What's in a name)

I guess I just don't like the 'artrock' progressive subgenre. Sorry guys!

just 2 stars for the collectors and fans

Review by fuxi
4 stars This is a delightful album on which David Sylvian welds together the funk, the 'worldbeat' and the atmospherics of Brian Eno (BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE) and late 1970s Talking Heads (REMAIN IN LIGHT in particular) with the sonic experiments of early Roxy Music (especially FOR YOUR PLEASURE's B side) and the world-weary attitudes of David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.

"Weeping for the loss of heaven" and "The sound of waves on a pool of water / I'm drowning in my nostalgia" are two typical quotes from the album.

When I say Sylvian welds together other people's styles, boy do I mean it! The opening track, for example, doesn't just borrow from Talking Heads funk, it even borrows half of its title ("Born under Punches" has become "Pulling Punches") AND makes use of Jon Hassell, the trumpeter who provided REMAIN IN LIGHT with some of its more unsettling moments. The second track, "The Ink in the Well", is a dreamy folk- rock ballad, somewhat in the style of John Martyn, and sure enough, it's got a starring role for Martyn's regular bassist, Danny Thompson. The fact that Sylvian even got Kenny Wheeler to play on this track (Wheeler is probably the greatest jazz trumpeter to emerge after Miles Davis) shows how seriously he takes his musical arrangements.

So why is this album an excellent addition to any prog collection?

To tell you the truth, I haven't been too impressed with Sylvian's other solo albums. GONE TO EARTH and BEEHIVE each have their moments but also contain a lot of tracks I invariably skip. The man's later albums simply sound greyish; there's far too much monotonous whining. (In my view, this is even true about his two-disc compilation EVERYTHING AND NOTHING.)

But on BRILLIANT TREES Sylvian got everything just right. This is a collection of superb melodies, inspired arrangements and wonderfully dreamy, melancholic moods from start to finish. Sylvian's collaborators are partly responsible for the album's success. Apart from the ones already mentioned, there are contributions from Holger Czukay, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mark Isham, Percy Jones, and all other former members of Sylvian's old band, Japan. Because of all these superb musicians BRILLIANT TREES is a masterpiece, on which the songs follow each other seamlessly. The mood is overwhelmingly gentle, but the colours are constantly changing. Soft synthesizer washes may drown YOU, dear listener, in nostalgia, but Sylvian's drum and bass are funky when they have to be.

As if all this weren't enough, the album is now available with three instrumental bonus tracks from a lovely old E.P. ("Extended Play"), WORDS WITH THE SHAMAN.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The first solo album by former Japan vocalist David Sylvian takes the direction of the band's last studio album, "Tin Drum", several steps further. The distinctive-voiced Sylvian, a less affected, more melancholy version of Bryan Ferry, gathers together a roster of distinguished musicians, including former Japan members Steve Jansen (Sylvian's own brother) and Richard Barbieri (of later Porcupine Tree fame), Krautrock legend Holger Czukay, avant-garde jazz trumpeteer Jon Hassell, and Japanese multi-instrumentalist Ryuichi Sakamoto (a frequent Sylvian collaborator), in order to produce a beautiful, intriguing album, full of diverse soundscapes and world music suggestions. In comparison with Japan's sparse, nervous sound, "Brilliant Trees" is richer and more rounded, enhanced by the array of ethnic and traditional instruments played by the musicians.

While album opener "Pulling Punches" is a more mature, energetic version of Japan's sound on "Tin Drum", a funky number driven by a powerful, jagged bass line. "The Ink in the Well" takes the listener into dreamy, folky territory - double bass master Danny Thompson played in the Seventies with folk-rock legends Pentangle. The aptly-titled "Nostalgia", a wistful, slow-burning ballad, makes good use of Sylvian's somewhat offbeat vocal style, which sounds warmer and more emotional than in his previous career as the dandy-like singer of Japan.

Red Guitar, another funk-tinged composition boasting an almost catchy melody, is the only really upbeat track on the album; while the last three songs, "Weathered Wall", "Backwaters" and the 8-minute-plus title-track, share the same rarefied, laid-back atmosphere. The latter in particular, a sprawling, ambient-like piece that wonderfully evokes the image offered by its title, sees the contribution of both Jon Hassell and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Elegantly brooding, almost decadent, "Brilliant Trees" is a sophisticated album that will appeal to people whose vision of prog is broader than 15-minute epics, mellotrons and odd time signatures. A great debut by an intelligent, challenging artist, and a very rewarding listen.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Brilliant Trees" is the debut full-length studio album by UK artist David Sylvian. The album was released through Virgin Records in June 1984. After recording five studio albums and achieving healthy commercial success with Japan, Sylvian opted to start a solo career, after Japan disbanded in December 1982. Sylvian had already released a solo single (a collaboration with Japanese artist Ryuichi Sakamoto titled "Bamboo Houses"/"Bamboo Music") while still a member of Japan, so it was no surprise that he wanted to pursue a solo career after Japan folded.

Stylistically the seven tracks on "Brilliant Trees" are jazzy, ambient pop/rock compositions, which are a natural succession of the music found on the last Japan album "Tin Drum" (1981), so the sound an style are not huge surprises if youīre familiar with the last couple of Japan albums. Former Japan members Richard Barbieri (synths/keyboards) and Steve Jansen (drums) also guests on the album, which doesnīt make the Japan similarities any less.

"Brilliant Trees" is a fairly varied album with both busier funky rhythm tracks like "Pulling Punches" and "Red Guitar", but also slow ambient melancholic tracks like "Nostalgia" and the closing title track (the latter style is the predomiant music style on the album). Itīs an incredibly well produced release, which doesnīt reek 80s sound production, although some features (some of the synth sounds, the drum sound) do give it away, that the album was recorded in that music era. Itīs a detailed and intriguing listen throughtout. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by Kazuhiro
5 stars The activity of Japan that continued for five years shut the act in 1982. The reason why Japan dissolves has divided into some opinions by people. The purpose that Sylvian requested the self to pursue from Japan also has the opinion made to dissolve the opinion and the band that says achievement and for Sylvian by which the creation of new music is requested to have dissolved the band. Japan dissolves and each member begins to walk on a new road. This album became first Solo Album for Sylvian. The activity of Sylvian at this time was indeed variegated. The tune by competing with Ryuichi Sakamoto is announced and it is worth or the activity such as making the photograph collection and making the documentary video has extended widely.

Sylvian has received the notice from the company of label at time when this album is produced. He had the plan of the album that did not contain the song in this album originally at all., he pursues own music character further since this album. It is guessed that the mind of pursuit to his obstinate a little part and music drove him. The entire impression of the album gives the impression with originality very much with the diffusion of the sound in addition to an aspect sound at the time of cultivating at the latter term of Japan. He was interested in contact with Jazz musician who was active with ECM etc. at this time. Those guests are made to participate a lot when the fact album is produced.

Guests who participated in the recording of this album are two people (Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri). And, it is Ryuichi Sakamoto and Steve Nye in the piano and the synthesizer. It is Jon Hassell in the trumpeter that participates in the album of Talking Heads. He is announcing Solo Album in ECM. And, another trumpeter is Mark Isham. And, Holger Czukay that contributes to this album and did wonderful work. Other Kenny Wheeler and Phil Palmer participate. And, Ronny Drayton of the guitar player who likes Sylvian at this time. And, Wayne Braithwaite and Danny Thompson that takes charge of Bass also participate.

"Pulling Punches" looks like the feeling of the tune performed at the time of Japan. It might have the soundscape and an advanced rhythm be suitable at the beginning of music that shows the pursuit mind and the directionality to his music.

A secret melody of "The Ink In The Well" jogs further with lyrics. The electronic element done with Japan has entered it from another angle with this album though it is possible to listen to an acoustic part even in other tunes. It will be able to be said that the element will succeed to some degree as the entire flow. The work of the guitar is also good each other.

"Nostalgia" gives the listener the impression the floatage the start from an enchantment chorus and the wandering of dark nature that exists no one. His poetry is suitable for the tune and rushes into the deeper world. The usage of the keyboard also arouses the fantasy and impression. And, the activity of the trumpet might be also large.

"Red Guitar" gives the impression that gradually diffuses the melody of the tune to the outside. A piano melody of Sakamoto has been completed and it might have a pop a few elements. However, the melody of this tune advances with the part like the thin glass. The graceful world extends on the edge of the borderline. It might be a famous piece of music in this album.

"Weathered Wall" might be a tune of which the color of Czukay has gone out strongly. This tune with which the anacatesthesia overflows is suitable for the creation of Sylvian at that time. Lyrics of Sylvian that talks about the part and memories that exclude the fashion flow slowly. Melody of the trumpet fantastic, a little as for rhythm uneasiness and an inorganic impression might be given. The tune gradually becomes inorganic and gives the soft light.

The shine of "Brilliant Trees" starts by a sublime melody of the trumpet of Jon Hassell. His trumpet is surely reformative for the performance method. The flow of the tune tossed about secret lyrics and space is a suitable tune for the decoration of the end of the album. The tune drifts as it is and comes in succession with a racial rhythm.

Tunes of the remainder are all tunes of Sylvian though two is work of cooperation with Hassell. And, the music character that Sylvian thinks about gradually establishes the idea and directionality. And, the element of the music of those reformative Sylvian starts from this album everything and derives.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is David Sylvian's debut and he has a couple of former members of his old band JAPAN helping him out, namely Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen. Cool to see Holger Czukay from CAN helping out as well with French horn, guitar and affects. I will say right off the top that this isn't nearly as good as "Secrets Of the Beehive" where I really think it he found his sound. There are songs here though that made me think of that album.

"Pulling Punches" is my least favourite because it's so very eighties sounding. It's uptempo and kind of funky at times. "The Ink In The Well" is more relaxed. Some prominant double bass in this one. Acoustic guitar stands out and we get some flugelhorn before 3 minutes. "Nostalgia" reminds me of "Secrets Of The Beehive" with that atmosphere and great song writing.

"Red Guitar" opens with drums, bass and guitar as vocals join in then piano. Trumpet 3 1/2 minutes in. "Weathered Wall" opens with slow but heavy drums as Barbieri comes in on synths. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Some good atmosphere in this one. "Backwaters" features more of that excellent atmosphere that recalls "Secrets of the Beehive". Drums after a minute followed by vocals. "Brilliant Trees" is laid back with vocals and trumpet. I'll again mention the atmosphere that makes this sound so good, much like many of those NO MAN records.

So a good album that seems to be lacking what made "Secrets Of The Beehive" so great.

Review by aapatsos
3 stars I have to admit that this first acquaintance with David Sylvian's music was a very impressive and unexpected one. A mixture of ambient/electronic music with funk, jazz and prog elements sounded rather amusing to my ears. The range of influences is equally impressive; from Chris Rea to Dead Can Dance and King Crimson, Brilliant Trees prepares the listener for a fascinating listen.

The album kicks off with a relatively 'lively' composition; Pulling Punches is a pretty funky introduction with dynamic slam bass lines and an 80's poppy feeling (presumably something that is brought over from Japan years). On this funky background of complex mid-tempo drumming (or should I say 'programming') and fashionable synths, Sylvian sings in a rather dark and melancholic way, giving a distinct touch to the track. Short guitar and sax-sounding solos fit brilliantly to this - happy and sad at the same time - interesting opening.

The following two compositions are probably the highlights of the album. Slow, acoustic guitars are dominant throughout The Ink in the Well while Sylvian's vocals are fit-for-purpose in this moody ballad. The track's refrain melodies are beautifully performed and the bits of trumpet and tuned-down bass bring a sad, bluesy feeling to the composition. Nostalgia opens with oriental vocals and a deep, ambient atmosphere takes on from there. Experimentation with percussion and sounds is abundant, while the track flows in a completely relaxed mood with the deepest vocals on the album. A few jazz sax touches mix adequately with this electronic/ambient background. Although the melodies are simple, they create an indeed nostalgic atmosphere.

The 80's synth-pop influences return in Red Guitar. However, this time the major tunes are played by jazz-driven joyful pianos. The King Crimson influences appear vivid in the bass lines. The vocals continue to be moody, approaching electronic patterns and slightly reminding of Dead Can Dance. Weathered Wall is far more ambient/electronic in a relaxed way, flowing similarly to Nostalgia but without these inspired melodies. More bizarre arrangements can be expected in Backwaters with the bass being the dominant instrument, balancing on dark jazz harmonies, but the track proceeds relatively repetitively and becomes uninteresting after the first few minutes. The title track consists of the lyrical vocals of Sylvian, sung on a melodic keyboard/trumpet background, while tribal percussion gives an experimentation character after the first half of the track.

Although being instantly impressed after the first few listens, the rather simplistic melodies of the album made me think again. However, Brilliant Trees undoubtedly maintains a strong ambient character that can make this record an intriguing experience. The first half of the record sounds far more interesting while prog fans with an affection to dark/ambient/experimental music might discover a gem here. Not necessarily essential, these trees sound quite brilliant and deserve 3.5 stars...

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars One of my all-time favorite album sides (Side 2) from one of the 80's few and true innovators of musical sound, structure and mood.

1. "Pulling Punches" (5:01) a great, quirky start to this eye-opening album. 8/10

2. "The Ink in the Well" (4:29) beautiful and spacey, though lacking catchy melody. 6/10

3. "Nostalgia" (5:39) is a prog "pop" masterpiece, What a mood, what powerful melody and lyrics, what horns. 10/10

4. "Red Guitar" (5:07) is an okay song--more like JAPAN than his new direction. 5/10

5. "Weathered Wall" (5:40) my second introduction to JON HASSELL (ENO's "Ambient 4: On Land" was my first). Stunning emotional impact everytime I listen to it. One of the great songs ever recorded. 10/10

6. "Backwaters" (4:49) has amazing samples/radio inicidentals from HOLGER CZUKAY. Love the bass line. 9/10

7. "Brilliant Trees" (8:35) almost as powerful and awesome as "Weathered Wall" HASSELL just blows me away!! 10/10

This album has some 'weaker' songs and therefore can't quite gain masterpiece status, but, as with MANY other albums, there are some masterful songs contained herein--including that rarest of feats--a near-'perfect' side! Plus, this album stands up very well over time (as opposed to so many other albums from the 80s).

4.5 stars marked down for 'Foxtrot/Selling England-like' lows.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars The opener 'Pulling Punches' is the one and only time Sylvian sounded like Japan. In fact, it's like listening to a continuation of 'Tin Drum' from three years earlier - only, the drums are more acoustic.

Some really tasteful French Horn played by Holger Czuckay and brilliant trumpet on behalf of Jon Hassell really raise this album to something more than it should have been. Sylvian certainly had some good connections.

It's not until Track 2 'Ink in the Well' begins that you'll realise there's no comparison with Japan bar the vocals which maintain that Sylvian dreariness throughout. Not until hearing 'Brilliant Trees' will you come to the conclusion what a huge influence Mick Karn had on Japan.

'Red Guitar' is my personal favourite song on this album and was also the single that charted highest in '84. An off kilter and somewhat askew jazz tune that had no place in any charts.

An unusual album with many tunes and beats that'll leave you scratching your head in bewilderment - none more so than on the excellent 'Backwaters' with its repetitive bass but very odd beat and instrumentation.

The title track sees us out with its beautiful but miserable conclusion. Once again the singing hits some very odd and off key notes which just seem to hit all the right buttons. Hassell, Sakamoto and Czuckay have free reign for the last 4 minutes creating the most beautiful of endings you can imagine. Unlike Japan, 'Brilliant Trees' hasn't dated one iota.

The first of a fantastic trilogy of albums ending with 'Secrets of the Beehive'

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Sylvian has the merit of having been one of the few artists able to be innovative in the 80s even if this solo debut is still too close to the electro-pop of his band JAPAN, so not exactly my pot.

He sings in a Bowie-style over slap-bass and funky brasses. The lineup is impressive: the newage guru Mark Isham at trumpet, the krautrocker Holger Czukay, Ryouchi Sakamoto, more or less the top of the musical creativity in the 80s.

"Pulling Punches" is a funky track very close to the music of JAPAN. Who knows Richard Wright's "Zee - Identity" will likely find similarities as I do.

"The Ink In The Well" is a fantastic slow song. Melodic enough to be appealing from the first listen but with (more than ) a touch of jazz-club brought by trumpet and fretless bass. A highlight.

"Nostalgia" starts ethnic but is a slow dark and athmospheric song. Great arrangement.

"Red Guitar" is deeply in the 80s, even more than the previous tracks. The nice thing is that I can't hear any guitar. The instrumental riff is played by bass and piano. The good of this track is for me the fact that if you don't pay attention to the Bowie-like vocals, it's verysimilar in the sounds to Rick Wright's "Strange Rhythm" from ZEE. That album has a very low rating but I like it, sorry for repeating.

"Weathered Wall" has a more jazzy flavor. It's still very electronic but Mark Isham makes the difference with his trumpet. This is the album's highlight. A repetitive rhythm that makes the song rhythmless, unusual chords progression in a chill-out mood. Relax and enjoy.

"Backwaters" is similar, but the bass pitch of the vocals makes it a little darker. The trumpet in the background should be from Jon Hassell here. Another very good track.

The closer and title track is excatly how it should be. No drums. Ambient keyboard's background, very jazzy with the dark bass voice of David Sylvian making an excellent work. In a periond during which I was going onto newage because of the general poorness of the musical scene this album has been one of the few valuable exceptions.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars I was surprised by this album. Japan wasn't one of my favorite bands. I collected a few of their albums only because I was intrigued by Mick Karn's unique bass style. David Sylvian's voice was smooth, but I found his lyrics in that band to often be empty.

On this Sylvian's first solo album, he immersed himself in a fine array of musicians. There's Holger Czukay, Mark Isham, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Percy Jones, just to name a few. But the big draw for me is Jon Hassell, who also co-wrote some of the songs. Hassell's effects enhanced trumpet adds an eeriness that no other instrument can achieve.

The compositions are fairly simple. The band sets up a simple rhythm, and layers the instrumentation over it into a complex sounding pastiche. The technique works quite well, even though Sylvian often seems to be making up the melodies as he is going along. It makes this an intriguing and fun album to listen to, but the songs don't remain in your head after it's over.

It's a good album, and a nice start ti his solo career.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars David Sylvian is one of the most important, prolific, progressive, and intriguing characters of the art rock scene by a large margin, even if he never reached the cult status of someone like Bowie, for example. Whether it's his work with Japan, his extensive solo career, the side ventures of Rain Tree Crow or Nine Horses, I do believe that he has left a mark on popular music, and is responsible for some of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces one could listen to. 'Brilliant Trees' is the debut solo album of Sylvian, released in June of 1984, amidst the rise and commercialization of new wave and art rock. In a concise yet straightforward manner, the album masterminded by the former Japan front man is one of the most far-reaching and eclectic offerings of the decade, displaying an exuberant array of styles and feelings in just seven songs. In my book, there is a truly progressive approach to the songwriting here, that is strongly felt on each and every track. Not to mention the great cast of characters brought in to help Sylvian in his craft, including Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen, former Japan bandmates, Holger Czukay of Can, and Japanese instrumentalist Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Sylvian's love for the experimental or the unconventional can be sensed in the very first track on the record, the explosive and funky 'Pulling Punches'. The bass playing is criminally tasty, the melodies are gorgeous, and the vocals are excellent all throughout. 'The Ink in the Well' follows up this one, a hypnotic piece that depicts Sylvian's longings. Beautifully introduced, the more ambient sections do much favor to this track, all instruments are used intelligently and work in harmony towards the ultimate goal of creating something beautiful and profound. 'Nostalgia, perhaps the most mellow song on the album, is a representation of the more tender side of Sylvian's music. 'Red Guitar' is one of his most well-known tracks, I personally find it to be one of the most progressively influenced and player new wave hits of the 80s.

The second side of the album features three very strong compositions. 'Weathered Wall' is a fantastic song that displays a more experimental and even jazzy approach. 'Backwaters' is perhaps the most haunting song on the album, with its audacious one-minute ambient intro. For me, some of the most hellish and hypnotic synths found on an art rock album are played here. Finally, there is the title track (which clocks in at a little less than nine minutes), the absolute climax of the album. It could sound a bit paradoxical to consider such a longing, tranquil, yet menacing song a climax, but everything comes together on this one. The entire album could not really be appreciated without immersing into 'Brilliant Trees' in the very end.

I do consider this album to be entirely excellent for all the reasons mentioned above, certainly a masterpiece in the David Sylvian universe, a strong digression from the Japan sound, and a bold representation of a musical talent who seeks to go beyond the conventional and comfortable.

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