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Snow Borne Sorrow

4.4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: E1 Entertainment Dist ***
  • ASIN: 5558513594
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Stack VINE VOICE on October 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
David Sylvian has been as of late full of surprises. 2003's "Blemish" found Sylvian experimenting with minimalism, electronic noise, feedback, and loops, a brilliant and personal album. His latest effort, a collaboration with brother Steve Jansen and Burnt Friedman under the name Nine Horses, is quite the opposite.

In many ways, "Snow Borne Sorrow" is as much a logical successor to "Secrets of the Beehive" as "Dead Bees on a Cake". Or perhaps better still, it feels like the child of the unreleased "Little Girls With 99 Lives" material (some of which saw the light of day as b-sides to 'Dead Bees' singles) and 'Beehive'-- keeping the jazz-tinged sound and textures of the former but eschewing lush textures in favor of a '99 Lives'-like modern noir sound. In better words, its sort of like a modern, loose take on Sylvian's jazz-infected composition.

At its best, the pieces have an unnatural energy to them, from the loping bass of opener "Wonderful World" to the guitar-driven "Darkest Birds" or the bizarrely folky-filtered through Miles Davis "The Day the Earth Stole Heaven". But at times, the album seems to overreach, primarily in a couple overlong pieces as the title track and closer "The Librarian", neither of which particularly go anywhere. But on the other hand, something like "Atom and Cell" feels like a lifeless harmony-laden pop song that somehow manages to wholly captivate.

All in all, I find this a pretty mixed record-- at times satisfying, at times I lost interest. Then again, I didn't get "Blemish" at first, so maybe I'll change my mind in a dozen more listens. There's enough here to keep me coming back, but not enough to get me raving about it.
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Format: Audio CD
In many ways, Snow Borne Sorrow felt like a surprise. "Blemish" while very experimental, began to feel like a boldly decided direction; abandoning the lush, Scott Walker-esque melancholoy of his 80s solo work in favor of cold, white noise and electronic sound scapes. But then here came Snow Borne Sorrow. I'm not sure what other people are hearing, but these songs are definitely very well structured, well written, impecibly produced, with lyrics on par with Leonard Cohen (well, almost). Yes, it's an undeniably admirable record. Then why do I, a diehard fan of Sylvian for more than 20 years, find myself advancing through most of the songs on this record?

My immediate answer is that the songs are just too, too long and laden with meaning and heavyness. Not that Sylvian's stuff has ever been light fluff, take "Before the Bullfight" as an example. But missing here are the rich arrangements like Sakamato's contribution to "Beehive" or Fripp's huge guitar work on "...Bullfight" that lift the heavyness of the lyric or vocal styling into something warmer. The songs don't tend to move that much on Snow Borne Sorrow. They find a pattern and they stick with it for a long time. They feel as if they written on loops. Also, his voice, which I am utterly devoted to, is mixed entirely too high and never gives the music a chance to take center-stage.

What I find most redeeming about SBS are the lyrics. The wit and depth of image are superior to anything he's written before. Lyrically, it's the picture of an artist working at the peak of his abilities. On Seratonin, bed sheets become "mountain ranges at my feet." Harmony is new for Sylvian but it comes off strangely yet masterfully on the chorus of "Atom and Cell.
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Format: Audio CD
Wow...calling all Sylvian fans. this album is a true classic. For me it's an extension of the best tracks from Dead Bees...ie Thalheim, Wanderlust mixed with the lyrical poetry (not the minimal music) of Blemish. Full on sound production, very much in the Sylvian electro/jazz tinged/Eastern influenced style. Jansen's drumming is spot - on (as always) and there are some new elements, choir-like backing vocals, full blown uptempo chorus that could pass as a Depeche Mode crowd pleaser (Darkest Birds). this is absolutely Sylvian's best work since Beehive. A classic record that will grow in stature as more folks find out about it. That Sylvian is still somewhat unknown is both a crime and a delight. those of us in the know have our own little secret. if you ever have enjoyed any of Sylvian's work, you must own this album. Peace.
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Format: Audio CD
I was highly anticipating this release as a return to form from the more experimental 2003 release, 'Blemish.' Though this is not credited solely as a David Sylvian effort, but as a collaboration with Burnt Friedman and brother Steven Jansen, it could easily be confused as one, as we see the return of familiar players Jansen and Sakamoto, as well as the tried and true use of a wide array of the eccentric, avante-garde musicians you have to come to expect on a typical Sylvian release.

The material, in general, does not disappoint. This is probably the most accessible and commercial Sylvian release to date, with Sylvian coming across as more relaxed and easygoing than ever. The trio and guest contributors come together to create a work that, not surprisingly, is colorful, enlightening and unique. The hooks, however, are still a bit sparse (aside from the straightforward pop track, 'Darkest Birds,') And the vocal delivery, while beautiful, often comes across as a bit monotonous.

If you are looking for another 'Secrets of the Beehive', 'Gone to Earth' or even the excellent 'Rain Tree Crow' project, you won't necessarily find it here. 'Snow Borne Sorrow' for the most part lacks the brooding romanticism that made much of Sylvian's prior solo work so emotionally moving. But, alas, as times and people change, so does the music. There is still much to be enjoyed from this album, as it tends to reveal more of itself on repeated listenings and continues to mark Sylvian and his collaborators as some of the finest musical artists of our time.
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