Snow Borne Sorrow
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Probably the most commercial release that David Sylvian has ever been involved with, Nine Horses still manages to sound unlike any other album out there at the moment. Breaking boundaries, fusing styles and yet delivering beautiful pop melodies and stunning vocals on songs that Sylvian fans everywhere are bound to fall in love with. Nine Horses brings together Sylvian, his brother Steve Jansen (ex-Japan), and the well respected Burnt Friedman and they have created a suite of remarkably poignant songs that are part social commentary and part self-analysis. Sylvian and his collaborators have never sounded better nor the material more immediate. Other guest contributors include: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Stina Nordenstam, Arve Henriksen and many more. Samadhi Sound. 2005.
David Sylvian’s new band? Well, hardly: He himself describes Nine Horses as a ‘disembodied band’. Initially consisting of Sylvian and brother, Steve Jansen, this project was sidelined by his cathartic Blemish album and was only reactivated by the contribution of electronica guru Burnt Friedman.
In turn many more players were brought into the fold, including old comrade Ryuichi Sakamoto, singer Stina Nordenstam and trumpeter Arve Henriksen, and they turn Snow Borne Sorrow into an ensemble work of haunting beauty. The subject matter still revolves around the failures of both personal and political relationships. Yet Blemish’s scant comfort of lonely squeaks and Derek Bailey’s scratchy guitar are replaced by a jazz-tinged variety that hints at redemption beyond any cold philosophising.
The only weak moment occurs in track two -”Darkest Birds” – where Sylvian takes a step too far into his more rockist back pages. It only jars because the rest of Snow Borne Sorrow is a delicately poised document, filled with rare wonders. —Chris Jones
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