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David Sylvian - Dead Bees On A Cake CD (album) cover


David Sylvian


Crossover Prog

3.85 | 87 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars After a near decade of collaborations with prog visionaries and consequently increasingly cryptic material, Sylvian returned to his true strengths with "Dead Bees on a Cake", clearly the heir apparent to the "Secrets of the Beehive" masterwork. His warmly somber voice, enduring melodies, and sparse but effusive arrangements are all highlighted here in a lavish package of well over an hour.

"I Surrender" fulfills the promise at the outset, a more fully realized take on the "Forbidden Colors" song which was a bonus cut on "Secrets". The 9 minutes are nothing if not repetitive, yet they pass like an effortless paddle down a fresh mellow river, verse after verse and chorus after chorus recounting a man coming to terms with the necessity of vulnerability. Lilting fills of flute and guitar provide subtle support. Other songs that conjure earlier magic are "Thalheim", the delicately orchestrated "The Shining of Things", and the romantically accessible "Cafe Europa". These alone offer more than enough for the fan who yearns for the old days.

Like a consummate artist, Sylvian also adopts a variety of newer mannerisms. Some work better than others. The best of the more blues oriented numbers is the surprisingly spot-on "Midnight Sun", where he brings his already low voice down another register to impressive effect. "Krishna Blue" avails itself of more woodwinds and nimbly tuneful percussion to approximate a hummable take on raga rock. The sumptuous "Darkest Dreaming" that closes the disk represents a blend of his ambient and poppy sides.

As on most indulgent recordings, several shots are fired well wide of the target. Specifically, "God Man"'s message is buried in cliches both musical and lyrical, and its raucousness, also practiced by "Pollen Path" and "All My Mother's Names", doesn't suit this artist one bit. A couple of the later cuts never seem to emerge from the background, which only underscores the wonder at how often he does succeed at such a daunting task.

Back in the LP days, the best tracks here, wisely sequenced, would easily attain 5 star credibility, so "Dead Bees" represent so much more than the icing on the cake for this elegant artist.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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