David Sylvian – Dead Bees on a Cake,fifth solo album, released in March 1999.

Dead Bees on a Cake

Dead Bees on a Cake David Sylvian

Moim zdaniem jeden z najlepszych – obok Brilliant Trees i Gone to Earth – albumow Sylviana. Spokojny, nastrojowy i urozmaicony w przekazie. Czesto do niego wracam, moze dlatego, ze wiaze sie z nim wiele moich bardzo sympatycznych przezyc i wspomnien – szczegolnie z utworami ‚Darkest Dreaming’  i ‚Cafe Europa’.

Spokojna stonowana plyta na dlugie jesienne wieczory przy lampce dobrego koniaku, grzanego wina, filizance kawy i koniecznie przy deszczu za oknem.

the official David Sylvian website

David Sylvian simply never fails to impress me. Even Darshan, a seeming half-hearted effort (w/ Robert Fripp), has a few moments of brilliance but, Dead Bees on a Cake is a whole different beast all together and harks back to his Brilliant Trees days for it’s beauty, restraint, and pervasive ambiance. However, some fans will definitely be disappointed. Gone are the esoteric musings and experimentation. Gone are the cold and bleakness he dabbled in with Gone to Earth and which he immersed himself in with Secrets of the Beehive. Although this effort’s intention is inextricably connected with the latter, I believe it to be only to the extent of the exorcism of those proverbial ghosts that David has wailed about these past twenty years and which came to a climax with Secrets of the Beehive. The bees are their secrets are dead indeed.

Like Sade’s new album, this one’s a long time coming. And also like Sade, you can tell that David has changed. The most apparent aspect reflected in the album is that David is in love. There’s a very relaxed and uninhibited quality to the songs where his earlier work, although just as beautiful, seemed to have an edge and somewhat angst ridden. Don’t get me wrong, there are some cuts here that hasten one back to previous material but, overall, it is much more accessible in terms of its messages – it seems that Ingrid has brought him much peace. Maybe the „cake” is „love”.

This effort is much more diverse than anything before – especially stylistically. From the Mississippi delta driven Midnight Sun, (with a wonderful touch of Gil Evan’s like brass section), to the exotic, sexy, Hindu inspired Krishna Blue, to the loungy Rhodes chillin’ Wanderlust.

Mere words cannot convey how good this album is. Thalhiem is simply remarkable. Its by far my favorite track in addition to Alphabet Angel and Wanderlust. I wanted Alphabet Angel to go on forever, but for the first time ever, David isn’t as self-indulgent. The song’s structure could easily warrant endless exploration, however David simply stops and the senses collapse, craving more – which I’m sure was his intent: his premise probably being simply „why do it” when any sensitive listener can improvise the rest. The melody is undeniably that true to form, spookily familiar, and is unshakable.

The usual suspects are here: Sakamoto and David’s brother Steve Jansen. Great ECM luminaries like Steve Tibbetts, Kenny Wheeler, and Bill Frisell. Even Tony Barberella from the Prince camp joined in, (for obvious reasons). Minneapolis is in full effect with Tibbets, Chavez, Barberella with God Man sounding suspiciously familiar! (this is the only track I didn’t really care for)

David’s albums have always possessed this very self-effacing, introspective „way” about them that would seem out of place being played on the radio or at parties. This album, much more than ever, is one to explore alone but, for the first time, some songs are comfortable enough to share with someone you love. Very romantic indeed.

I don’t know what Shree Maa is singing about but it makes me want to weep – in sadness and in joy.

It’s taken me a while, since I first heard the album, to write this review and, I believe that, if some fans would have waited to issue their initial impressions, their reviews would be different. This is a classic if there ever was one. Every artist must grow and change – their fans too, but it should be no surprise to anyone that, more often than not, it is not synchronized. It’s still David: just a different David.

All songs writeen by Sylvian, except where noted.

  1. „I Surrender” – 9:24
  2. Dobro #1″ (Sylvian/Bill Frisell) – 1:30
  3. „Midnight Sun” (Sylvian/Johnny Moore/Charles Brown/Eddie Williams) – 4:00
  4. „Thalheim” – 6:07
  5. „Godman” – 4:02
  6. „Alphabet Angel” – 2:06
  7. Krishna Blue” – 8:08
  8. „The Shining of Things” – 3:09
  9. Cafe Europa” – 6:58
  10. „Pollen Path” – 3:25
  11. „All of My Mother’s Names” – 6:11
  12. „Wanderlust” – 6:43
  13. „Praise” (Traditional)– 4:02
  14. „Darkest Dreaming” (Sylvian/Djivan Gasparyan)– 4:01





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