Back in the days when Cheekbones were king and Art was queen, [a]David Sylvian[/a] bestrode the land like a powder-puffed colossus...

Back in the days when Cheekbones were king and Art was queen, David Sylvian bestrode the land like a powder-puffed colossus, and after Japan split in 1982, he evolved into a nouveau Bowie for the 4AD-obsessed masses. Of which there were a lot at the time.

Countless collaborative efforts later, a 40-something Sylvian still mines much the same seam. Where he once jousted with Robert Fripp and Can's Holger Czukay, he now ropes in Talvin Singh and Bill Frisell and the result is a beautiful, sprawling pick'n'mix with a daft title. That Voice has survived intact. Mood permanently set for '4am and navel-gazing', Sylvian pleads for someone to, "Stay tonight/We'll watch the full moon rising/I don't ever want to be alone/ With all my darkest dreaming". You listen, you fill up, you submit to anything this man's vocal chords would have you do. Anything.

For all the experimentalism, though, 'Dead Bees...' has a sheen to it, smearing an unwelcome touch of the Morcheebas over the otherwise gorgeous 'Wanderlust'. It's Sylvian attempting to overcompensate for all his numerous contributors and it's this constant need for collaboration that slightly hampers 'Dead Bees...'. Indeed, when all the great mates are finally packed off, leaving Sylvian to craft the likes of 'Dobro #1' and 'Praise' alone, you wish he'd ditch the collective and concentrate on the personal, no matter how worthy the collaborator. One day, David Sylvian will make a genuine solo album that will be a creature of rare beauty indeed. Until then, 'Dead Bees On A Cake' is the bittersweet treat its title suggests.
5 / 10

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