Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag England - Full Moon 31 - 04/30/99
David Sylvian
Dead Bees On A Cake

It's taken some time, but David Sylvian is finally back with a new album. His last proper solo album was released way back in 1987, if you can believe that. Well, there was that collaboration with Robert Fripp in '92-'93, but that was more Fripp than Sylvian anyway.

I had to look at one of my old Japan LPs, and compare the photos on the cover to the portraits inside the cover of Dead Bees On A Cake. Okay, I know it's been almost 20 years since Sylvian was a pop star, but still - you'd think there would be at least some resemblance between the two. No chance.

And so it is with the music. David Sylvian's solo albums are so far removed from the synth-pop of Japan, that trying to compare the two is like the classic case of apples and oranges.

In contrast to the rather disgusting title, the music served on this disc is a collection of mostly warm, soothing sounds, with Sylvian's voice out front - like balm for tired ears. From soft ballads to slow blues to waves of sounds that seem to come out of nowhere, with a range of instruments that go past our preconceived ideas of what popular music should sound like. A song like Krishna Blue, for example, with tablas and other Indian instruments. Or how about The Shining of Things, with it's beautiful string quartet? Midnight Sun skillfully mixes John Lee Hooker samples with guitars, keyboards and a brass arrangement - making for an innovative an dark sounding twist on the blues.

Of the musicians on Dead Bees On A Cake, Steve Jansen is a familiar name to those aware of Sylvian's days with Japan. The drummer does mostly percussion on this album, so don't expect any of his trademark rhythms. Other musicians include guitarists Marc Ribot and Bill Frisell and Ryuichi Sakamoto on Rhodes piano. Sakamoto also did the string and brass arrangements for the album. Also featured is the beautiful voice of David Sylvian's wife, Ingrid Chavez, who as some might know has previously graced the music of Prince (Or whatver he calls himself these days).

With 14 songs, there's a lot of beautiful music to listen to. I only hope it won't take so long before we hear from David Sylvian again.

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You may also want to check out our David Sylvian article/review: Manafon.

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