On its surface, Manafon may be David Sylvian at his most subdued to
date. But the meditative aura evoked by frequent rests and spare
accompaniment does nothing to blunt the potency of his music-making.
Indeed, “Small Metal Gods’” strophic repetitions are seductive, a hushed
exhortation that draws the listener in.
But by no means will they be treated to a bump-free ride. As Sylvian
intones in the next song, “The Rabbit Skinner,” there’s “no easy resting
place;” this amid subtle touches of free jazz saxophone and angular
keyboard interjections (all played piano).
Things continue similarly for much for the CD’s length. Sylvian’s voice
is the primary instrument, and it is abetted by a background
accompaniment that often takes on an ominous cast.
Given many recordings’ penchant for filling the sound space and limiting
the dynamic spectrum, Sylvian’s willingness to keep things spare is a
courageous move. It’s also an affecting one for those who enter
Manaphon’s mysterious sound world with attentive ears.
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