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David Sylvian

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David Sylvian David Sylvian & Holger Czukay: Plight & Premonition album cover
3.81 | 42 ratings | 5 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts) (18:30)
2. Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel) (16:21)

Total Time: 34:51

Line-up / Musicians

- David Sylvian / synthesizer, guitar, piano, prepared piano, harmonium, vibraphone, composer
- Holger Czukay / organ, sampled piano, electronics, composer, orchestration & Fx, producer

- Jaki Liebezeit / Fx
- Karl LippergaŁs / electronics

Releases information

Artwork: Mekon with Yuka Fujii (photo)

LP Venture ‎- VE 11 (1988, UK)

CD Venture ‎- CDVE 11 (1988, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy DAVID SYLVIAN David Sylvian & Holger Czukay: Plight & Premonition Music

DAVID SYLVIAN David Sylvian & Holger Czukay: Plight & Premonition ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (17%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DAVID SYLVIAN David Sylvian & Holger Czukay: Plight & Premonition reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In the late 80s, David Sylvian released 2 albums in collaboration with former Can bassist Holger Czukay. Although they were released a year apart, both this album and 'Flux and Mutability' were recorded - very quickly - at the same sessions. This, the first to come out, is a pleasant piece of electronic ambient experimentation. The pieces are both slow, statley and largely rhythm free, but like Fripp and Eno's 'No Pussyfooting', a surprising amount of development takes place as the music unfolds. Defintely non essential, but if you like Tangerine Dream's Zeit this has a similar atmosphere.
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm not familiar with David Sylvian music. I've listened to this album because it features the legendary electronic alchimist Holger Czukay (ex-CAN). We can easily perceive his signature in this galactic journey through floating-haunted synthesised waves and burgeoning dronescapes. The result is astonishing and constantly fascinating, almost at the same musical level to Czukay's ultimate pre-ambient masterpiece Canaxis. The album is made of two epic-majestic cinematic soundscapes. It delivers a cascade of drone chords sustained by ephemeral-angelic-melancholic harmonies and sometimes spaced out esoteric moods in the genre ever developed in early electo-krautrockin' excursions and in glory subaquatic-primordial ambient hymns (Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana...) Plight & Premonition is not a revolutionary effort but it is a top class introspective-brainey experience. It can be conceived as one of the summits of nebulous ambient music. Moreover it is constantly accessible and relaxing without being new age. This is a must have for neophytes and kosmische kraut lovers.
Review by Dobermensch
4 stars Seeing as we're going through a mini heat-wave here in Scotland, I thought I'd give this album an airing for the first time in 7 years. And you know, I'd forgotten how good this sounds compared with the tidal wave of ambient recordings that have been released since 1987.

Plight and Premonition is an excellent and instantly identifiable album that should be listened to on dark swelteringly hot nights. Entirely instrumental, but unlike its successor - this one is far more atmospheric and has a lot more depth and feel to it. And unlike most collaborations this sounds split 50/50 right down the middle in terms of input and resulting sound. It's a bit like a slightly more lively 'Atem' by Tangerine Dream. It floats along in a majestic manner as foreign radio snippets (clearly Czukay inspired) make brief appearances. Reverbed piano and prolonged spooky keyboard chords only add to the happiness I feel when I hear this.

Very different to Sylvian's first two vocal albums and a million miles from "Japan". It is short however, and you won't get any bonus tracks on the cd, which is probably a good thing as it's perfect in length and atmosphere just the way it is.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The first of two matching albums made by poet-composer David Sylvian and Krautrock wild-card Holger Czukay was an exercise in attentive listening, for the musicians in the recording studio and - even more so - for unwary record buyers (like me in 1988) who might have been expecting something else entirely.

Where were the comic-relief French horns? The clever cut-and-paste radio-wave surfing? Instead of another "Cool in the Pool" hodgepodge of sampled pop flotsam, we got an album of music adrift in the aether: a pair of Eno-inspired ambient dream studies, dense with random atmospheric effects but at the same time lighter and more evanescent than early-morning dew at sunrise.

At first exposure it may not resemble anything more than a soundtrack to the best night of sleep you ever had. But each of the two long tracks was meticulously crafted and full of incident, albeit presented with subtle, almost intuitive care. Melodies and rhythms exist, but were slowed down and stretched out to a point almost beyond the threshold of perception.

In retrospect the album plays better as an unbroken composition, with the tentative "Plight" (mostly assembled by Czukay in his home studio laboratory) blossoming into the even more lovely "Premonition", the latter actually recorded live without overdubs. Heard together, the two halves complete a single piece of music sounding as natural and sustaining (and as easy to ignore) as the pulse of blood moving through your heart at this exact moment.

The passage of time has only improved the experience, and added some necessary perspective. Consider this: when the album was released in 1988 (two full years after it was recorded, thanks to record company cold feet), the music charts were topped by Bon Jovi, George Michael, Van Halen, and the score to the movie "Dirty Dancing". Measured against those platinum yardsticks, the Sylvian-Czukay collaborations have to be considered minor miracles of restraint and integrity.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I'm reviewing an album 30 years after having bought it. At the end of the 80s I didn't like Japan so I don't remember how I actually went to buy an album by David Sylvian. I also knew CAN only by name, so it wasn't for Czukay for sure. I suppose that what raised my curiosity was the album having one track per side. In the same period I was into KLAUS SCHULZE's Dune, so this might have been a reason.

The album was quite a surprise. I remember to have forced myself in listening it in one shot. Japan were a new.wave electronic band, so I was expecting at least some electronic drums. Nothing at all. "Plight" is a keyboard driven soundscape with some flute-like sounds and progressions of notes that remind me to Claude DEBUSSY. It's dreamy. Listening to it I'm still able to create mental images of ice, white woods, but also elven, fairies and magical beings. This is surely influenced by the track subtitle: "spiralling of winter ghosts". With a bit of imagination it could bring the listener into space, or in the deep of the ocean.

Fans of the pink period of TANGERINE DREAM know what I mean. Some passages are darker, other are just relaxing. Some sounds have a far east flavor. This is the matter dreams are made of. An "astronaut like" voice closes the track, but I'm unable to understand the language he speaks.

"Premonition" is opened by another voice. Female and likely speaking in German. With the Vyil one doesn't realize how much the two tracks are interconnected. Effectively it could be just one single electronic suite. Probably it was conceived in this way, This track is lighter. The far east flavor is enhanced by the subtle dissonances of the untuned (synthetic) piano which adds variations to a base mainly made of major chords.

I remember walking in an airport in a morning, just after an intercontinental flight, stoned by the jet lag. Tired but relaxed with the announcements coming from the speakers like I was still sleeping. This track brings that sensations back to my mind. I hope it can give the idea. Some tracks by VANGELIS have a similar mood.

Calling it electronic ambient music is not wrong but it's reductive. I have the impression that all the dissonances, the balance between the various keyboards and electronic effects doesn't sound improvised. There must have been a lot of work at least in the engineering and mixing phases.

An excellent addition (if you like ambient music)

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