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David Sylvian - Brilliant Trees CD (album) cover


David Sylvian


Crossover Prog

3.75 | 108 ratings

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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...

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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