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Sleepwalkers

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 28, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

DAVID SYLVIAN RELEASES NEW COMPILATION SLEEPWALKERS: FEATURES HIS GREATEST COLLABORATIONS FROM THE '00S, INCLUDING "WORLD CITIZEN" WITH RYUICHI SAKAMOTO, THE NINE HORSES PROJECT, AND THE NEW SONG "FIVE LINES," A COLLABORATION WITH DAI FUJIKURA. In the '00s, David Sylvian produced two of his strongest and most solitary statements, Blemish and Manafon. But those records don't tell the whole story. In the same period, Sylvian created a more playful body of work: a series of collaborations and side projects with leading talents of pop and improv, electronic and contemporary classical music. The best of these recordings are gathered here on Sleepwalkers, meticulously sequenced and remixed: the fruits of one-off meetings and lifelong partnerships, they jump from bliss to intrigue, romance to sensuality, as arch experiments lead into the lushest pop. The single "World Citizen - I Won't Be Disappointed," written with Ryuichi Sakamoto, is a sublime example, with an impeccable melody and lyric warmed by Sylvian's gorgeous tenor. Sylvian has worked with Sakamoto for close to three decades. By contrast, on "Pure Genius," a collaboration with Chris Vrenna aka Tweaker, he sounds like he's walked into a heist flick, singing the part of a delusional, dangerous bedroom genius. As Sylvian explains, tracks like this "give me a chance to write in a way that's completely non-personal, playful. It's an exercise of some kind, working within the parameters of a given assignment." Intrigue of a different kind drives "Sugarfuel," with music by Jean-Philippe Verdin, aka Readymade FC. The lyrics offered "an opportunity to grapple with a more overt sexual theme than anything I'd attempted previously, as suggested by a vocal sample in the original track provided, a threateningly insistent 'I'm on your side.' So I took that as my point of entry and ran with it. I would love to write more on this subject should I find the right context. You're always aware of walking a thin line exploring sexuality with language alone. The failings of the great and the good are strewn all around." Sylvian's longest-running partnership is with his brother, drummer and electronics artist Steve Jansen, and two of their projects find their way here: the Nine Horses trio with Burnt Friedman, and Jansen's debut album (and samadhisound release) Slope. "Wonderful World" strolls in on a black tie bass line and the echoing coos of Swedish chanteuse Stina Nordenstam, whose high chirps brush hands with Sylvian's lead; while on "Ballad of a Deadman," his voice and Joan Wasser's (Joan As Police Woman) roll together over the tune's dusty blues. But Sylvian is alone again with the bitter memories of "Playground Martyrs," while Jansen's exquisite music recalls the orchestrated ballads of Secrets of the Beehive. Sleepwalkers also spotlights the innovators who contributed to Manafon and Blemish. Christian Fennesz hangs a crackling, shimmering curtain behind the vocal on "Transit," matching his signature mass of sui generis sounds to Sylvian's stately performance. And the title track began with an instrumental handed to Sylvian by Martin Brandlmayr of Polwechsel, soon after the first recording session for Manafon. Spite crackles in the gaps between the percussion, and onkyo artists Toshimaru Nakamura and Sachiko M set the stage for the scathing lyrics in the chorus. It cuts close to the bone, and so do the two spoken word cuts, "Angel" and "Thermal," produced by samadhisound recording artist Jan Bang and Erik Honor‚ (and featuring Arve Henriksen on trumpet). Sylvian describes the latter work as a "love poem" to his daughter. "'Thermal' reflects on a period when our time in Sonoma, CA was coming to an end. We'd stayed in temporary accommodation which had lulled us into a false sense of security. We had pear, apple, lemon, and figs trees growing in the yard. A small but exotic paradise. A cocoon. But the cracks were beginning to show in the relationship between [ex-wife Ingrid Chavez] and I which is where I think this underlying sense of anxiety, which runs throughout the

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sleepwalkers
  2. Money for All
  3. Ballad of a Deadman
  4. Angels
  5. World Citizen - I Won't Be Disappointed
  6. Five Lines
  7. The Day Earth Stole Heaven
  8. Playground Martyrs
  9. Exit/Delete
  10. Pure Genius
  11. Wonderful World
  12. Transit
  13. The World Is Everything
  14. Thermal
  15. Sugarfuel
  16. Trauma


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 28, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SAMADHI SOUND UK
  • ASIN: B003XOAJ8I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,432 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Here is a collection of songs produced over the past ten years in which David Sylvian collaborates with a host of other musicians. The thing is, it doesn't sound like a collection of songs taken from such a length of time. Either the songs are particularly well chosen to sit so well together or the artists that Sylvian chooses to work with understand him so well that these songs feel like solo works as opposed to pieces taken from other artists' albums.

On first listen, I was put off by the similarity in the vocal phrasing within the songs, but even by second listen, the differences were becoming apparent. When compared to albums such as Secrets of the Beehive, it's obvious that Sylvians' style has changed and what seems to be lacking in many of his songs are the heart-wrenching melodies he is able to create. Never-the-less there are plenty of moments of brilliance here: Playground Martyrs, World Citizen, Pure Genius as well as all the Nine Horses stuff.

The blurb accompanying this release talks about "a more playful body of work", playful may be a stretch, these songs are still very dark and at times it sounds as though Sylvian has more than his fair share of demons to wrestle.
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[DAVID SYLVIAN - Sleepwalkers - 2011] This cd represents a collection of collaborations and vocal contributions David Sylvian has made on other artists' works spanning the last ten years or so. A few are closer to his heart, as his brilliant 'Nine Horses' collaborative effort with his brother Steve Jansen and Burnt Friedman would indicate. The remainders are usually one-offs added to other artists cd's, and this is a very cost-effective way to obtain them, as opposed to purchasing the cd's individually just to get the track you're primarily interested in. The tri-fold digipak artwork is disturbingly, hauntingly beautiful and indicative of the dark warmth that lies within.

Sylvian has incorporated these tracks under one roof, and sonically 'tweaked' or remixed the songs so they sound cohesive and flow more like an album rather than a various artists' compilation. His compositions are alternately heart-wrenching, dark and anxious, bleak and world-weary, near-menacing and exquisitely gorgeous simultaneously. His ability to bear his thoughtful, tormented soul within the confinements of a song format is a strength few possess. His voice is an acquired taste, somewhat like that of a 50 year-old scotch, but once you develop a taste for it, you'll find yourself needing a sip more often than you ever expected.

His is not, nor has it ever been, background music; it's something you need to sit quietly and ponder over, letting the lush warmth and unexpected depth sink into every pore of your skin and saturate your mind. He wears his crown of supreme melancholia proudly and deservedly, and the carefully chosen musical accompaniment marinates and resonates deeper within you than most forms of music ever imagined. His is a world few inhabit, and even fewer are invited into.
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Format: Audio CD
I was so excited to receive this album in the post. I had only seen the artwork online, but it is truly beautiful once you get it in your hands. Such striking imagery, but then Sylvian has always had this attention to detail in his albums. Musically, there are a few tracks that I had heard before (such as the Nine Horses material), but for some reason I had missed the Sylvian / Sakamoto track and it was such a delight to hear them working together. I've been a fan of David's for many years now and what I love about his work is that you can never second guess which direction he is going to take and that's why I think this compilation works brilliantly, there is such variety and yet his voice is the one thing (along with his lyrical sense) that carries you through, even in those more sparse angular moments of some of the more recent work. If you are a fan of David's work, then this is highly recommended.
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Again. Mr. Sylvian once again exhibits a need to spin outward from the familiar and safeground. As he has done on previous recordings, we are given that rare glimpse into a personal biography of thoughts, actions and feelings. The cover art is beautiful and fully compliments the awkwardness and exposure of existing in the limelight. the fact that mr. sylvian is also a visual artist and has pulled recordings from Joseph Beuys and J.G Bennet proves to me that the tones and melodies of life can be achieved by the visual and the written. simply beautiful.
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David Sylvian can be found guilty of a number of things - being distant, surrounding himself with talent, avoiding his past - however, predictability is not one of them. On this collection of tracks that, generally, didn't find their way onto one of his proper album, Sylvian ironically manages to create one of his most consistent albums. Though most of the tracks were recorded in entirely different circumstances from each other, their is a strange flow that holds quite disparate tracks together. You'll find beautiful songs like "Playground Martyrs" (from fellow former-Japan member, and brother Steve Jansen's solo album, Slope) to pensive meditations on post-millenium angst like "World Citizen" (from frequent collaborator Ryuichi Sakamoto's solo album, Chasm). These are just a couple of the many highlights on an album that rewards upon repeated listenings.
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