- Audio CD (June 18, 2002)
- Limited Edition edition
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Limited Edition
- Label: Virgin Records Us
- ASIN: B000063KG8
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,770 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Limited Edtion 2002 Compilation of Instrumental Tracks from the Former Lead Singer of Japan and Rain Tree Crow. 'wave', 'plight' and 'upon this Earth' were all Newly Remixed by Sylvian. 'red Earth', 'new Moon at Deer Wallow' and 'big Wheels in Shanty Town' were Originally Recorded by Rain Tree Crow. The Bonus Disc Includes Three Tracks Originally by Sylvian and Holger Czukay, Newly Remixed by Sylvian.
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Top customer reviews
"Camphor" is the instrumental piece, a single disc compilation of mostly instrumental works drawn from Sylvian's solo catalog and work with Rain Tree Crow. Along the way, there's a pair of songs not before commercially available (both were released on a CD Sylvian sold on tour the year before this came out) and three remixes.
The CD paints a fairly interesting picture of Sylvian as an instrumentalist-- right away it's pretty clear this eschews the usual ambient atmosphere with "All of My Mother's Names", a feature for guitarist Marc Ribot from 1999's "Dead Bees on a Cake". Ribot coughs up a churning freak of a solo that defies expectation and predictability and still, nearly 8 years after I first heard it, I'm in awe of the piece. But it's not ambient, and while the album will drift in an out of ambient sounds (i.e. "Answered Prayers", "A Brief Conversation Ending in Divorce"), the real beauty of the record is the breadth of diversity of the work on it, be it the rolling funk of Rain Tree Crow's "Big Wheels in Shanty Town", the traditional ambient sounds of "The Healing Place" or the noise excursion of the title track.
Of the new songs, "The Song Which Gives the Key to Perfection" is a Hindu chant gently delivered by Sylvian (and his only real vocal on the record) over a mild drone and electric piano. It works out to be a lovely piece, admittedly perhaps not everyone's (including my) cup of tea, but it's a nice enough listen. "Camphor" mixes a traditional ambient sound with what processed effects and noise and what sounds like someone spinning a radio dial. It's quite an intriguing performance, although admittedly some of its strength is in wrapping up in 3 minutes-- had it gone on long, I could see it getting annoying quickly.
The remixes are interesting-- two of them are remixes of vocal pieces-- "Wave" from "Gone to Earth" essentially ends up being presented as throbbing synths and Robert Fripp's superlative guitar playing (his performance on "Wave" is some of his best) and works nicely on its own. "Mother and Child" is equally intriguing, replacing Sylvian's vocal with a superb trumpet performance by Nils Petter Molvaer but otherwise largely leaving the original alone, although it seems Ryuichi Sakamoto's Cecil Taylor-esque soloing comes a bit more to the fore. Again, it works fantastically and proves quite effecting and powerful. The third piece is a slice out of one of his works with Holgar Czukay-- "Plight" gets edited from over 15 minutes to under 3-- the little pieces works ok, but it's more like an interlude than anything else.
Like any compilation, I could certainly argue the track listing (the inclusion of "Praise", a chant by Sylvian's guru and the notable lack of the stunning "Gone to Earth" piece, "Camp Fire: Coyote Country", which flattens me everything I hear it), but all in all, like its counterpart "Everything and Nothing" served for Sylvian's vocal work, "Camphor" is a fine compilation of his instrumental work. The limited edition bonux disc contains remixes of three pieces from the Sylvian/Czukay albums-- "Plight" and "Premonition" both get full treatments whereas "Mutability" gets trimmed down to just over 5 minutes. I listened to "Plight and Premonition" recently and quite honestly didn't note dramatic differences with the remix,but "Mutability", originally clocking in at over 20 minutes, was a piece I could never deal with because it couldn't sustain my interest, benefits from conciseness. Still, the bonus disc is likely only of interest to diehards and it's probably not necessary to seek it out.
Regardless of edition, for those new to Sylvian's work, "Camphor" is a fine introduction to his instrumental side during his tenure with Virgin. For older fans, this set may not be as valuable, but the music contained within is superb.
"All of My Mother's Names" has been reworked here. A little different from the version on DEAD BEES but I like this one really.
A different version of "Wave" is also a bit different but sounds really good.
"Mother and Child" originally a vocal from SECRETS is worked beautifully as a jazz instrumental. Gorgeous! My favorite piece on the CD!
A 2 miniute segment of "Plight" appears, my first real intro to Sylvian's instrumental pieces. Ghostly and sparce with lots of distant vocal samples via Holger Czukay's dictaphone.
Really I like much of this except one piece was dissapointing. Now I like atonal stuff like Usserchevsky and Cage, stuffed pianos and live sheep on stage kinda stuff. But "Camphor", the title piece, goes along nice enough but has this irritating dissonence that sounds like chainsaw ripping up a speaker! No lie...do not listen with headphones. If aliens came and erased this one track then the CD would be a perfect treat.
The oddest thing here though is the artwork! What is this? Mushrooms on the moon? Kinda cool though. But Sylvian and avant-guarde kinda go together well.
SECRETS OF THE BEEHIVE
ELECTRONIC MODULATIONS:VINTAGE VOLTS
a collection of avant-guarde atonal works by Cage and Usserchevsky and the like. But no live sheep...