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David Sylvian


The Good Son vs. The Only Daughter - the Blemish remixes


Samadhi Sound


David Sylvian CD coverThis disc is quite amazing in that it is a full work. It is able to stand on its own as a new album, despite the fact that it is actually a collection of remixes of David Sylvian's prior solo album Blemish. This may be testimony to the brilliance of David Sylvian's songwriting. Blemish was largely composed by David alone in his studio in New Hampshire, Derek Bailey and Christian Fennesz helped out on a few tracks but the idea and direction of the project was clearly David's.

As Jason Cowley, writing in the UK Observer, puts it:

Blemish is brave and uncompromising. Dense and sometimes inaccessible, it occupies an ambiguous space somewhere between hard, free-form experimental electronic music and the avant garde, and has revitalised my own and others interest in his work - which, judging from what I've heard of a new album he's been working on with his brother, is moving in new and promising directions. Blemish can be listened to on many levels - but most notably as an anguished confession during which Sylvian grapples with the failure of his marriage to Chavez, with who he has two daughters. He told me that they are soon to divorce.

It is a troubling and solitary work, this is what makes is approach brilliance. David Toop, writing on Blemish in The Wire, remarked that 'you can feel the room' as you listen to the album. So you can. The starkly minimal compositions complement beautifully the rich tones of his voice.

The good son vs The Only Daughter changes none of this, it merely makes it congeal as a whole and in fact improves on the blueprint Blemish created. This disc works so well because it does not wholly rework the original compositions, instead it sharpens them without deviating from their parameters.

Roji Ikeda's quiet, chamber-music-like arrangement of The Only Daughter, allows the listener to inherit the space described by the song. My language may seem a bit abstract in describing what has happened to these songs however, it is exactly to the point. For close to 50 minutes one is drawn into David's world. This is what makes it work so well: each song neatly flows into the other. The disc's sounds move from acoustic ensembles to the bouncy laptop bass of Sweet Billy Pilgrim's remix of The Heart Knows Better to the cheery almosty gypsy-like dance of Readymade FC's remix of A Fire In the Forest to Burnt Friedman's noisy, echoey, dubby version of Late Night Shopping to Tatsuhiko Asano's jazzy reworking of How Little We Need To Be Happy to the closing full 10 minute version of Blemish as mixed by Akira Rabelais as he exposes all the sharp electronic twitches in the song, making you wonder why your speakers haven't melted already.

Maximum enjoyment requires Headphones.

---George Killgoar III, May 3, 2005