David Sylvian's career has spanned a thirty-year period, initially finding its way through the popular New Romantic movement with the band Japan. Sylvian subsequently went on to produce a quality body of mature solo work, his debut emerging in 1984 with Brilliant Trees. Going from strength to strength ever since, he’s reinvented himself musically at various stages along the way.
His latest release, Manafon, is an unconventional work and perhaps one of the most diverse to date, and testament to his development. It sees Sylvian stripped bare of any lavish trimmings. The compositions reach out with naked hands, clinging to intelligent and sometimes complex observations and rigorous study of character.
Sylvian scratches the edges of some dark surfaces; however the centrefold is even more expressive with its hues of jaded normality – a conceptual status throughout.
Sylvian portrays deep insights with his lonely textured vocals, grasping the heart of the subject and shaping it in a way that only his own strength of voice could direct. Instrumentation is sparse yet effective and orchestrated in a unique way – the diverse sounds intervene at all the right moments integrating well with the mood. His haunting lullaby has a strong sense of purpose - pivoted centrally throughout the album against its dark fabric – the colours of which are all exceptionally responsive. With production that’s crystal clear - every creek or stirring within the atmosphere can be heard - all reacting and responding with an immense sharpness.
"Maybe I'm attracted to the stories of individuals who search for meaning on their own terms," says Sylvian. "But what I'm fascinated by is the devotion to a creative discipline. The meaning with which the work imbues the life regardless of its reception and, to a certain extent, its importance."
Manafon isn't just a listening experience – it’s a work that encompasses every nuance of explicit chamber instrumentation, melody and structure – the qualities of which become more engrained with every listen.
Manafon is scheduled for release September 14, 2009 on Samadhisound.
Click here for the Samadhisound reviews archive.