The latest release by David Sylvian is actually a collection of personally commissioned remixes of material from his critically acclaimed 2003 album Blemish. I usually have my suspicions when it comes to remix or tribute projects. It is a rare occasion when someone does a fair remix or reconstruction of a tune, thus taking it to territories beyond the confines of dance music. Despite my prejudices and doubts, this is truly a great album.
Surprisingly, what's most amazing about it is its cohesion. A group remix effort often comes across as dysfunctional material that is neither this nor that. For this particular task a group of innovative contributors was assembled, including Burnt Friedman, Yoshihiro Hanno, Ryoji Ikeda, Akira Rabelais, and Readymade FC, some of the most creative and globally respected individuals at the forefront of musical experimentation and sonic exploration.
The original Blemish was based on series of improvisations with guitars, vocals, and electronic sounds, but the immediacy of the situation, as well as the stripped arrangements, created a specific mood. The remixers went on rearranging the material, providing a beautiful tapsestry of sounds, bleeps, blops, hard edits, and distant drums. For the most part, the “form” of each track is established by seemingly random sound effects. Each remix is an accomplishment of its own, and these tapestries have proven great platforms for Sylvian’s voice, which sounds like Miles’ trumpet sound—warm and recognizable.
The opening track, “The Only Daughter,” which was remixed by Japanese minimalist artist Ryoji Ikeda, is reminiscent of Harold Budd’s work—a few naked piano chords or a simple but enchanting melody hovering in a spacious, haunting atmosphere. The two versions of “The Only Daughter” and “Blemish” (done by Ryoji Ikeda/Akira Rabelais and Jan Bang & Erik Honore/Burnt Friedman) do not hinder the album’s concept. To the contrary, these variations provide a rich landscape of sounds where the artificial and the natural bond seamlessly, which can also be said for the whole album. A personal favorite is “A Fire In The Forest,” remixed by Readymade FC, who adds a subtle pop flavor with his approach.
The Good Son Vs. The Only Daughter is a highly theme-oriented disc and a captivating excursion into synthesized organics. Beautifully packaged and designed (with artwork by Atsushi Fukui and design by Chris Bigg), it is a truly interesting work—just as good as Blemish, only different.
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