Mojo - David Sylvian "Manafon"

03.09.09

Sylvian and heavyweight free improvisers make a most original album.

Manafon finds Sylvian so far out from his former life as a pop star that, like Scott Walker, he is hanging on to it by the slenderest thread. It also shows 2003's Blemish - featuring the astringent lines of improvising guitarist Derek Bailey - was no mere aberration. Here Sylvian sings against spartan group improvisations by the likes of saxophonist Evan Parker, AMM pianist John Tilbury and electronicist Christian Fennesz. Initially baffling, Manafon richly repays further deck-time. Sylvian's gorgeous, creamy voice drifts calmly across a fidgety soundworld which includes his own fragmentary guitar and keyboards. At times it feels as though voice and instruments are completely disassociated, at other times oddly concordant. The melodies are tightly written, though, and the lyrics carry some vivid pictorial images, like the requiem for the enigmatic Rabbit Skinner and the terrorist cell of Random Acts Of Senseless Violence.

MIKE BARNES



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