Disc one concludes with another Sylvian/Sakamoto collaboration, this one from Ryuichi’s 1992 Heartbeat album. The full title of the song is “Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki III),” with words by David Sylvian and music by Sakamoto and the great Arto Lindsay. The brilliant guitarist Bill Frisell also appears. As always when it comes to the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto, the atmospherics are all enveloping. This could just be wishful thinking on my part, but “Heartbeat” even seems to nod in the general direction of P.M. Dawn at times.
The second CD begins with a track from 1993, “Jean The Birdman.” This again shows the high level of musicians who chose to work with Sylvian, in this case it is Robert Fripp, from the album they recorded together titled The First Day. While Sylvian’s voice has always been its own instrument, certain influences and comparisons are unavoidable. With his earlier material, I was reminded of Bowie at times. On disc two of A Victim of Stars it is Bryan Ferry who I sometimes think of.
David’s voice has deepened, which completely suits his music. If his '80s work proved that serious artistic statements could be made within the fashionable MTV-friendly confines of synth-pop, his music of the past 10 years or so represents a very graceful maturation. This is no back-handed compliment. It is my fervent belief that Sylvian has written some of his finest material in his later years. For me, the finest track of all came from his 1999 album Dead Bees On A Cake, and the 9:25 of “I Surrender.” It is an amazing piece of music, from what I consider to be his very best album.
The remainder of the collection spans the years 2003-2012. David Sylvian’s music over these years is some of the most interesting of his entire career. Right up there with Dead Bees On A Cake is Blemish (from 2003). Blemish is certainly his most personal recording, as “A Fire In The Forest,” “The Only Daughter,” and “Late Night Shopping” certainly attest.