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Manafon

3.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 15, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

2009 album from the acclaimed British vocalist and former member of Japan. David Sylvian is a man apart. In a thirty-year career that spans the New Romantic movement, ambient works and Progressive Rock, and mature and esoteric Pop, Sylvian has tested popular styles and bent them to his own vision. On Manafon, Sylvian pursues "a completely modern kind of chamber music. Intimate, dynamic, emotive, democratic, economical." In sessions in London, Vienna, and Tokyo, Sylvian assembled the world's leading improvisers and innovators, artists who explore free improvisation, space-specific performance, and live electronics. From Evan Parker and Keith Rowe, to Fennesz and members of Polwechsel, to Sachiko M and Otomo Yoshihide, the musicians provide both a backdrop and a counterweight to his own vocal performances.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Small Metal Gods
  2. The Rabbit Skinner
  3. Random Acts Of Senseless Violence
  4. The Greatest Living Englishman
  5. 125 Spheres
  6. Snow White In Appalachia
  7. Emily Dickinson
  8. The Department Of Dead Letters
  9. Manafon


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 15, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SAMADHI SOUND UK
  • ASIN: B002GJ3OAG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,288 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's David Sylvian Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I'm sure there will be more opinions in the negative with David Sylvian's new album " Manfon ". This is definitely not for every Sylvian fan . If you want David's melancholic lilting ballads, you've got " Secrets of the Beehive " or " Gone To Earth ". If you want glam, you've got Japan's " Obscure Alternative " and " Adolescent Sex ". If you want perfectly manicure pop, you've got " Tin Drum " and " Gentlemen take Polaroids ". But if you want an artist such as David Sylvian to mature and find new ways to keep themselves true....you've got " Blemish " and now " Manafon ". If I may make a comparison to Miles Davis, a man who searched and strove towards forging new ways of expression, new ways of rebellion, and at times wrestled with his artistic and personal demons. He continually struggled with himself and the public to make new music almost everytime. This artist NEVER stood still, and I'm sure lost and found listeners along the way. And in this day and age where music is manufactured in little plastic cases, all looking and sounding the same, safe as houses....with pop singers too afraid to say how they really feel ( or if they have anything to say at all ). Well I'm happy knowing that David Sylvian is in charge of his own creativity and is not afraid to show what he is feeling and communicating at this given time. At no point did I find this album a " smooth ride down the Nile on a hot summer's day ". Rather I was shocked in the same way it's sister album " Blemish " did a few years back. But with repeated listenings, I found a way to understand and appreciate the work. Music can either be a part of your furniture ( no real listening required ) or it can grab you attention forcing you to listen to it in different way. Manafon does this. So if you are up for charting unfamiliar waters, this album is for you. If not 1978's " Sometime's I feel so Low " beckons you !
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Format: Audio CD
I have just listened to Manafon the 5.1 version for the 4th time today and find the whole thing mesmerizing....incredibly poetic....its quite brutally beautiful.This sort of Artistic expression brings up the subject of Artist producing his/her vision without any regard for audience expectations.....its up to the listener to keep up or adapt...not for the Artist to produce what the audience expects etc.....most definitely challenging but highly compelling
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that David Sylvian is one of the most creative musicians since the late nineties. His new album, "Manafon" bears out his rich imagination and daring pursuit of original experimentation. This time though his effort has not worked as expected. In spite of the huge talent of the musicians accompanying him, one does not get to feel that they do their best to deliver a good performance, and it seems that "improvising" turns out to be a license to make nonsense noise. No matter the content of Sylvian's lyrics, it does not seem that they cohere with the sounds created for the occasion. Hence my three stars, an expression of my mild dissapointment, something very unusual on my part when I engage Sylvian's works.
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Format: Audio CD
What's more difficult to swallow than this album is how seriously these guys take themselves. Alas, I am a completionist and purchased the deluxe edition for this album. What I got for my $70 was a couple of pictures and a 55 minute video of "intellects" pontificating about how important their services are to the musical community. Indeed my tastes are eclectic and my tolerance for the avante-garde greater than most, but for those of you who do not suffer from the "completionist gene" take some advice from someone who collects music, the effort put forth by these pimp artists is pathetic. Throughout the piece pompous grating is substituted for constructive ideas and esoteric dirge for thoughtful lyrics. Perhaps the ultimate insult comes in the form of David Sylvian's insistence to slap his name over this work when he himself claims the extent of his contribution was hash lyrics and vinyl static. But then again, he's probably doing his "collaborators" a favor.

Best Quotes (From Previous Reviews):

"it seems that "improvising" turns out to be a license to make nonsense noise" [Jose Artiles-Gil]

"just monotonous nasal ramblings over the sound of a hair dryer while a bassist tunes up" [James F. Mcdermott]

"quiet tracks are layered with pops and glitches and scratches - thus preventing the music from inhabiting its own space; This curtain of interference between the listener and the artist is, for me, off-putting" [Robert Carlberg] - and to think this album is offered in a $40 vinyl edition
3 Comments 9 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
For the first five six times I listened to this record, I just couldn't get it. I felt I kept hitting my head against the brick wall that was Manafon - yes, there are vocals with concrete melodies, sure, but coupled with the sparse, haphazard instrumentation it just felt too minimalistic and as having no point. The listening experience was more numbing than satisfactory. Then, something happened. I learned to listen to the background more attentively, and where I thought before that there was silence I learned to hear the continuous background instrumentation - very seldom is there a silent moment against David's vocal lines but the backing track is actually full with instrumentation, soundscapes, ... yes, adventure. Where I first might have thought that the vocals don't coincide at all with the backing track I now distinguish patterns, interplay between the vocals and the instruments, thought-out songwriting as opposed just to pure 'dull' improvisation. In short, I managed to find a door in the brick wall, open it and glimpse deeper into the ideas behind this album - or at least I've been able to form my own interpretation of them. Now I find it a very stimulating, though of course still very demanding, listening experience. Where David lets the instruments do a solo, they burst into life, such as in 'Emily Dickinson' where the song ends in a beautiful sax solo resembling the cries of swans. All tracks are about equally strong, but somehow I like most 'Snow White in Appalachia' (for its overall atmosphere and imagery, as well as for the way the song wraps up in the end) and 'The Rabbit Skinner'(for its melody line). The songs on this album cannot be straight compared to his earlier, more conventional vocal work - the songs here are for meditation, contemplation and reflection rather than for humming along. That's why, even if in the big picture I do prefer songs like 'Orpheus', 'Buoy' and 'Ghosts', I give this album the full five stars.
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