criticalmob.com - David Sylvian "Died In The Wool"

14.06.11

Being a David Sylvian admirer can be a maddening proposition. Over the last decade or so, his forward-looking brilliance has gone hand in hand with an inexplicable tendency to revisit, rework, remix, and repackage his material, to the extent that his latter-day catalog is dominated by this seemingly pathological retooling. So it's only natural to approach Died in the Wool with a wary eye upon learning that it reworks material from Sylvian's previous album, Manafon. However, it turns out to be more of a "new" album than anything else.

Only half the tracks are actually re-jiggered Manafon cuts, and most of those are drastically different, and arguably improved by replacing the original ultra-minimal/barely musical settings with young Japanese modernist composer Dai Fujikura's arch-but-melodic avant-chamber orchestrations. The new material includes both Manafon outtakes and pieces that build on the ideas explored on the earlier record, sometimes sounding like a more austere cousin of Tim Buckley's Lorca/Starsailor explorations, or even King Crimson's Islands-era chamber-rock ballads (Sylvian has, after all, collaborated extensively with KC mainman Robert Fripp). Died in the Wool isn't for Sylvian beginners, but fans needn't fear it.

JIM ALLEN

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