BBCi - Nine Horses "Snow Borne Sorrow"


David Sylvian's new band? Well, hardly: He himself describes Nine Horses as a 'disembodied band'. Initially consisting of Sylvian and brother, Steve Jansen, this project was sidelined by his cathartic Blemish album and was only reactivated by the contribution of electronica guru Burnt Friedman.

In turn many more players were brought into the fold, including old comrade Ryuichi Sakamoto, singer Stina Nordenstam and trumpeter Arve Henriksen, and they turn Snow Borne Sorrow into an ensemble work of haunting beauty. The subject matter still revolves around the failures of both personal and political relationships. Yet Blemish's scant comfort of lonely squeaks and Derek Bailey's scratchy guitar are replaced by a jazz-tinged variety that hints at redemption beyond any cold philosophising.

The only weak moment occurs in track two - ''Darkest Birds'' - where Sylvian takes a step too far into his more rockist back pages. It only jars because the rest of Snow Borne Sorrow is a delicately poised document, filled with rare wonders.

Reviewer: Chris Jones

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