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  • Navdeep Jhaj wrote on December 06, 2009 report

    I'm a big Sylvian fan since the days of Gone to Earth but honestly have not heard his most recent albums. The Spirit of the Beehive remains one of my ALL-TIME favorite records.

    Having read a lengthly cover story about him in a recent issue of the Wire, I'm inclined to pick this up. But I have some fear and trepidation, honestly. Particularly when I read this from the review:

    "Parker describes free improvisers as not trying to command their instruments but, rather, trying to explore them, further describing the act of playing like biofeedback.."

    When I read this, I think of one word: noodling. Concrete question, What is the fine line between experimentation and noodling?

    I freely admit: I saw Derek Bailey perform just before he passed away, and I walked away in bewilderment. I guess I didn't get it--- it seemed so utterly random, like incidental scraping of the fretboard by the pick. It's like that joke Mingus played with his audience many years ago: in presenting a night of avant-guarde music, he had a group of musicians playing some very austere/out sounding lines--behind a curtain. Then, Mingus purposefully removed the curtain to reveal small children attempting to play instruments for, what looked like the first time.

    Nonetheless, I really dig David S., so I'll put this on my list of albums to get.

  • Navdeep Jhaj wrote on December 06, 2009 report

    Err,oops, I meant "Secrets of the Beehive". "El Espiritu de la Colmena" is one of the best films of all-time, from Spain.

  • John Kelman wrote on December 06, 2009 report

    Hi Navdeep,
    Thanks for taking the time to write so extensively. Manafon is absolutely an album of risk, but one that manages it with profound beauty; that's what's perhaps most amazing.

    Parker's comments are NOT to imply noodling, though; he's just saying (and I couldn't include the full quote) that sometimes you're playing something, and the instrument responds in an unpredictable and new way, which in turns pushes the player into new spaces. That's the biofeedback idea, that it's a two-way thing.

    What's the fine line between experimentation and noodling? Noodling has no purpose; experimentation has a considered goal and may not always be successful, but is almost always fascinating.

    I think what's important here is that while it doesn't kowtow to conventional song form, Manafon absolutely is songs, and Sylvian has created some of the most sensitive, subtle and beautiful music I've heard in a long time.

    Check out some samples: and - that'll give you enough to know whether or not Manafon is for you.


  • Navdeep Jhaj wrote on December 06, 2009 report


    Thanks for the samples--I checked 'em out--sounds intriguing---if it wasn't for David's vocals, I wouldn't know what to make of it. Of course, they serve a the whole lynchpin of the project (file that under "DUH", I suppose). Very sparse at times, I guess raw is the right word, almost a-capella with incidental, almost "textural" sounds as background. So, yeah, sounds intriguing.

  • John Kelman wrote on December 08, 2009 report

    Hey Navdeep, glad you checked the samples out...