Nine Horses’ (David Sylvian, Burnt Friedman and Steve Jansen) previous Snow Borne Sorrow toyed with the makeup of individual and group musical creativity, skewing, rearranging and disjointing the usual relationships between the two. The sprightly solo trajectories of Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Swedish vocalist Stina Nordenstam were stitched together at the mixing boards and assumed an array of positions within a shifting mosaic of canny textures, spry locomotive rhythms, vocal yarps and smoky late-night jazz wanderings. This effort re-imagines three tracks from that album, and sets them alongside two new pieces and a bonus track, “Birds Sing For Their Lives,” which was previously only released in Japan. The two new works stir up predominantly melodic, groove-based arrangements, which are encrusted with spindly keyboards, swanky guitar lurches and Sylvian’s bold vocal harmonies building to a sunburst finish. Throughout, Sylvian bemoans the comedy of power, the microprocessing of desire, and the enervation of social relations in general, matters which might potentially stand out like a sore thumb but manage to settle quite well into and, indeed, feed off of the heated exchanges of snaking guitar patterns and shuddering electronic dissonances. “Get The Hell Out,” the second new piece on display here, is another swirling convection of bulbous beats, squelchy synths and edgy, antagonistic trumpet passages. The composition is kept from lapsing into garish terrain, largely owing to deft transitions which enable the trio to move convincingly from epic crescendos to luminous moments of contemplation. On the remixes by Burnt Freidman, the emphatic leitmotifs and muscular jazz meanderings are sedated so as to allow him to expose and explore certain elements in a more patient, exhaustive fashion. A swaggering energy still remains, yet it’ s now diffused over the entirety of a track, as opposed to appearing and disappearing in pockets. As a result, certain compositions such as “The Banality Of Evil” slowly bleed a pensive, nervous energy, while for others, especially “Wonderful World” at seven minutes, the distance to cover is too great, and numerous dry spots pockmark the work. This effort therefore utilizes an eclectic set so as to criticize and comment on the confusion and slackening of an epoch which itself rests on the premise “anything goes”—and in this way, the album acts as a mirror, reflecting the system’s logic while never absorbing it. (MS)
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