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David Sylvian

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David Sylvian Gone To Earth album cover
3.70 | 129 ratings | 10 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Taking The Veil (4:39)
2. Laughter & Forgetting (2:40)
3. Before The Bullfight (9:45)
4. Gone To Earth (3:02)
5. Wave (9:11)
6. River Man (4:54)
7. Silver Moon (6:08)
8. The Healing Place (5:35)
9. Answered Prayers (3:11)
10. Where The Railroad Meets The Sea (2:53)
11. 11.The Wooden Cross (5:01)
12. Silver Moon Over Sleeping Steeples (3:00)
13. Camp Fire : Coyote Country (3:41)
14. A Bird Of Prey Vanishes Into A Bright Blue Cloudless Sky (3:00)
15. Home (4:31)
16. Sunlight Seen Through Towering Trees (3:00)
17. Upon This Earth (6:24)

Total time 80:35

Bonus tracks on 2003 remaster:
18. River Man (Remix) (4:24)
19. Gone To Earth (Remix) (1:57)
20. Camp Fire: Coyote Country (Remix) (3:46)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Sylvian / vocals, keyboards, guitar, electronics (1), Fx (2), co-producer

- Robert Fripp / guitar (1,4-7,13,17-20), electronics (4-7)
- Bill Nelson / electric (3,5,7,8,16) & acoustic (3,9) guitars
- Phil Palmer / acoustic guitar (1)
- B.J. Cole / pedal steel guitar (7,12)
- John Taylor / piano (2)
- Steve Nye / piano (10), co-producer, mixing
- Kenny Wheeler / flugelhorn (2,3)
- Harry Beckett / flugelhorn (5)
- Mel Collins / soprano saxophone (6,7,18)
- Ian Maidman / bass
- Steve Jansen / percussion, drums, sampled bass (6,18)
- Richard Barbieri / Fx (3,5)

Releases information

Artwork: Russell Mills

2xLP Virgin ‎- VDLI (1986, UK)

CD Virgin ‎- CDVDL-1 (1986, UK) Omits 4 tracks (#12-14 & 16)
2xCD Virgin Japan ‎- VJD-25021~22 (1988, Japan)
2xCD Virgin ‎- CDVDLX 1 (2003, UK) Remastered by Tony Cousins with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy DAVID SYLVIAN Gone To Earth Music

DAVID SYLVIAN Gone To Earth ratings distribution

(129 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DAVID SYLVIAN Gone To Earth reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by soundsweird
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.
Review by 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 plus 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 "And though voices may holler for all they're worth, the rabbits have fled their burrows, Gone to earth" but the song lacks cohesion. "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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Gone to Earth" is the second full-length studio album by David Sylvian. "Gone to Earth" was released through Virgin Records in September 1986. Itīs the successor to "Brilliant Trees" from June 1984 (his first solo studio album after leaving Japan), although the two full-length studio albums are bridged by the experimental/ambient compilation album "Alchemy: An Index of Possibilities" from December 1985.

"Gone to Earth" is quite the ambitious double album release, although it was only the vinyl version of the album which was a double release. The original CD version was a single album release (later reissues are two-disc releases featuring a couple of remixes). Side A and B features ambient/slightly experimental pop/rock songs with David Sylvianīs deep, melancholic, and warm vocals on top (tasteful atmospheric guitars and synths, and the occasional use of flugelhorn, which provides the music with a longing effect), while Side C and D of the original vinyl version solely features instrumental ambient new age music.

Itīs predominantly subdued music with room for atmosphere and reflection. Some of the highhligts of the first disc (Side A and B) are the opener "Taking The Veil", "Before The Bullfight", and the slightly more dramatic and noisy title track. The ambinent instrumental material featured on Disc 2 (Side C and D) are a little less remarkable, and while itīs pleasant enough, it has a tendency to become background music.

The musicianship is excellent. Thereīs lots of synth in the music but also flugelhorn which gives the music a strong melancholic touch. Note the great rhythm section too. They are often subdued and low in the mix, but effective when they are allowed to be part of the compositions. Robert Fripp (King Crimson) guests with some of his trademark Frippertronics and adds a bit of spice to some of the compositions.

"Gone to Earh" is well produced featuring a sound production which is both warm and organic, but at the same time distanced and cold. Itīs an interesting combination, which really shouldnīt work, but somehow does here. So upon conclusion "Gone to Earh" is a high quality ambient pop/rock release, which is quite unusual, featuring unconventional songwriting and an interesting approach to dynamics. Unfortunately the rather unremarkable second part of the album drags my rating down. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved though, but that rating is predominantly based on how great the first half of the album is.

Review by 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.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The peak of the Sylvian-Fripp collaboration, a double album filled with melodic gems as well as abrasive avant garde experiments like 3. "Before the Bullfight," 6. "River Man" and the title song, 4. Some of David's greatest vocal and songwriting exploits were realised on this album. Plus, you will be privileged to hear three of the greatest Robert Fripp guitar songs he ever recorded. AND the sometimes hidden or under the radar presence of the great Bill NELSON. The tour that followed this album included a lot of improvisation due to the amazing stage presence of trumpeter/synth genius Mark ISHAM and experimental guitarist David TORN--as well as Sylvian and his brother, drummer Steve Janzen. While I liked much of the first album, it was the more ambient second disc that I played to death.

Favorite songs: 1/5. "Wave" (9:11) (10/10); 2/10. "Upon This Earth" (6:30) with the most heart-wrenching Robert FRIPP solo ever! (10/10); 2/2. "Answered Prayers" (3:10) (10/10); 1/1. "Taking the Veil" (4:40) (10/10); 2/6. "Campfire: Coyote Country" (3:46) (10/10); 2/1. "The Healing Place" (5:34) (9/10); 1/6. "River Man" (4:54) (9/10); 2/5. "Silver Moon Over Sleeping Steeples" (2:22) (9/10); 2/3. "Where the Railroad Meets the Sea" (2:52) (8/10); 1/7. "Silver Moon" (6:19) (8/10), and; 2/8. "Home" (4:33) (8/10).

This is for me one of the most important albums of the 1980s and one of the few true masterpieces of true progressive rock during that decade.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury 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

Review by Dobermensch
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.

Review by friso
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.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
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.

Latest members reviews

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 h ... (read more)

Report this review (#33187) | Posted by bob x | Sunday, January 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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