The Australian - Nine Horses "Snow Borne Sorrow"


Rated: 5/5 stars

In the final moments of the 1981 film of Bukowski's Tales of Ordinary Madness
Ben Gazzara’s character asks "...why must we die in our sleep?"
David Sylvian, with brother Steve Jansen and musical uber-genius Burnt
Friedman, explore a parallel premise with this stunning new trio recording as
Nine Horses.
They are nine songs, all vehicles carrying heavy loads through an hour of opulent
sound. A menacing metallic tone signals a different time, a post 9/11 world and
life in the slipstream of that unbelievable crime.
With some musical flashbacks to his 1984 solo revelation Brilliant Trees,
Sylvian’s singular voice floats over gorgeous melodies juxtaposed with steam
hammer guitars and languid Pied-piper-like reeds. Voices and choruses hold and
reinforce. Bubbling electronics imply sinister interference while ritual bells, jazzy
child-like tunes and luxurious codas sooth and calm.
A loping acoustic bass and a serpentine kundalini trumpet, this time by
Supersilent member Arve Hendriksen, are both hallmarks of his work, as is the
presence of brilliant melody man Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Sylvian’s long association with Robert Fripp is evident with references to King
Crimson’s sound palette. Friedman's musical contribution equals with an almost
symbiotic empathy.
Like the work of artist Christian Boltanski, cited in the sumptuous “Atom and
Cell”, these are sombre but ultimately rich pieces that play with perception in the
field of memory, and illuminate the contrasts between light and dark, good and
evil. Snow Borne Sorrow is a mature work, a magnificent and important
recording. It is the sublime fruit of a continuing exploration of the place where the
heart lies.

©michael rofe/lateralnote 2005

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Website design and build: Rebels In Control, after cover art by Chris Bigg. Art direction: David Sylvian. Banner images from the Hypergraphia book.