David Sylvian CD review

David Sylvian
Sound CD ss016

On its surface, Manafon may be David Sylvian at his most subdued to date. But the meditative aura evoked by frequent rests and spare accompaniment does nothing to blunt the potency of his music-making. Indeed, ‘Small Metal Gods’ strophic repetitions are seductive, a hushed exhortation that draws the listener in. But by no means will they be treated to a bump-free ride. As Sylvian intones in the next song, ‘The Rabbit Skinner,’ there’s “no easy resting place;” this amid subtle touches of free jazz saxophone and angular keyboard interjections (all played piano).

Things continue similarly for much for the CD’s length. Sylvian’s voice is the primary instrument, and it is abetted by a background accompaniment that often takes on an ominous cast. Given many recordings’ penchant for filling the sound space and limiting the dynamic spectrum, Sylvian’s willingness to keep things spare is a courageous move. It’s also an affecting one for those who enter Manaphon’s mysterious sound world with attentive ears.

Video: Small Gods (YouTube)

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