Sunday, 5 February 2023

Nostalgia Burns

A selection of David Sylvian songs has been percolating since I posted about his first 'interview' (actually an audio diary), broadcast on Mary Anne Hobbs' 6 Music radio show last October.

Undaunted (or just plain foolish), I've matched the ambition of David Sylvian's career-spanning compilation A Victim Of Stars, released in 2012. Whereas that sought to encapsulate three decades in 31 songs, I've attempted the same with 11 songs and just over three quarters of an hour.

My other constraint was to avoid using any songs that appear on a David Sylvian C90 compilation that I recorded in the early 1990s, spanning 1984 to 1989 and most of the singles from that period. Inexplicably, The Ink In The Well didn't feature on that cassette and I used a different version of Taking The Veil, so they’re in. However, it does mean that this selection doesn't feature anything from Secrets Of The Beehive, possibly my favourite Sylvian solo album, jostling for pole position with Brilliant Trees. On the plus side, that battered old tape didn't include either of David Sylvian's hit singles with Ryuichi Sakamoto, so they make the cut here.
David Sylvian's music has arguably taken an increasingly esoteric path and I've only relatively recently started to dive back into his catalogue, having stopped regularly buying his albums with 1999's Dead Bees On A Cake. This selection falls slightly short of A Victim Of Stars' scope, 'only' covering 1982 to 2011. Rather than mirror that compilation’s straight chronological path, I've mixed things up, finding my own way through the songs in a direction which I think makes sense from start to end.
The selection didn't start with the intention that it would specifically be a Sunday post, but I think it works particularly well, listened to on a dark, cold weekend in winter.
1) The Ink In The Well (Remix) (1984)
2) The Greatest Living Englishman (Coda) (Manafon Variation) (2011)
3) Taking The Veil (7" Version) (1986)
4) Dobro #1 (1999)
5) Godman (Wagon Christ Mix By Luke Vibert) (1999)
6) Forbidden Colours (Theme From "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence") (Vocal Version): David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto (1983)
7) Small Metal Gods (Album Version) (2009)
8) Blemish (Remixed By Burnt Friedman) (2005)
9) Five Lines (2010)
10) Bamboo Music (Full Length Version): David Sylvian & Ryuichi Sakamoto (1982)
11) A Fire In The Forest (Album Version) (2003)
1982: Bamboo Houses EP: 10
1983: Forbidden Colours EP / Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence OST: 6
1984: The Ink In The Well EP: 1
1986: Taking The Veil EP / Gone To Earth: 3
1999: Dead Bees On A Cake: 4
1999: Godman EP: 5 
2003: Blemish: 11
2005: The Good Son vs. The Only Daughter: The Blemish Remixes: 8
2009: Manafon: 7
2010: Sleepwalkers: 9
2011: Died In The Wool: Manafon Variations: 2
Nostalgia Burns (46:50) (Box) (Mega)


  1. He's ploughed his own furrow for so long I don't hear anyone sounding remotely like him; a total one off.
    A great mix btw.

    1. I like the fact that David Sylvian's music, particularly the 21st century material that I've more recently discovered, didn't immediately grab me but required and rewarded repeated listening. C touched on a similar feeling when she wrote about Tom Verlaine and Television recently.

  2. Excellent mix - I think Ryuichi Sakamoto did a performance recently where he played forbidden colours - sadly it will probably be his last performance as he is very ill.

    1. Ryuichi Sakamoto is another artist whose music I've been delving into recently, triggered by his illness and the sad passing of Yukihiro Takahashi last month. Bittersweet times, with a reminder of the timelessness of music and the mortality of humans.