David Sylvian

Brilliant Trees/Words with the Shaman

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Brilliant Trees, Sylvian's first solo album following his departure from Japan, was originally released in 1984 and was soon followed by an EP entitled Words with the Shaman. Both were unavailable in the U.S. until Caroline reissued them on this single disc in 1991. But though the music on this album represents two separate releases and is technically divided into individual songs, the average listener may have trouble detecting the movement from one piece to another. There is a single overall sound: a deceptively soothing, mildly funky pastiche of keyboards, treated horns (courtesy of Jon Hassell) and rather unsettling snippets of radio voices and third-world singers. Many of the weirder moments are contributed by Holger Czukay, who would subsequently collaborate frequently with Sylvian. Instrumentally, the music is quite interesting, but Sylvian's voice can be pretty irritating -- he's not half the singer he thinks he is. Still, fans won't be disappointed and this disc is a good value for the money. If you're thrifty and curious, begin here.

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