David Sylvian – Playing The Schoolhouse (CCS51)

Review by Tim D

A limited run of 300 cds released by Confront Recordings, ‘Playing The Schoolhouse’ is an EP length composition by David Sylvian recorded in Norway in March 2015

Released in mid October – and instantly sold out – ‘Playing The Schoolhouse’ (CCS 51) finds David Sylvian in avant garde jazz territory. Based on an improvisation with Jan Bang, the single 15 minute track sees Sylvian playing ‘found objects, samples, and additional field recordings’, with Bang adding ‘found objects and dictaphone’. There are also contributions from Otomo Yoshihide and Toshimaru Nakamura.

Confront Recordings, the brainchild of owner Mark Wastell, specialises in small run editions, named the ‘Confront Collectors Series’. All releases are housed in a DVD sized metal casing with stickers to denote which release it is. Inside this case, the CD has the look of an old vinyl record, and a tasteful postcard completes the set. Pricing is also very attractive, only GBP 10.00 including worldwide delivery, or just GBP 8.00 in the UK.

According to Mark Wastell on the Confront Recordings website, “David has been a long time admirer of what we do and the way we do it – and a loyal customer too – as well as a contemporary of a number of the artists on our roster. I asked David to write a ‘single’ for the label and he presented me with the 15 min ‘Playing The Schoolhouse’.”

David Sylvian himself says: “Mark’s approach to running his label is one I admire. Along with numerous other labels I could mention, this is a one man operation and a labour of love. He brings to light work which might otherwise never be heard. Others do the same and, in my opinion, deserve support. It’s wonderful that so many have shown an interest in this piece that lies so far from the songwriting most seem to hunger for. I’m grateful for that.”

I know this kind of music is challenging for many people – no recognisable ‘instruments’, no melody, structure or rhythm – but for me this is a worthy addition to David’s catalogue and a rewarding listening experience.

A second (again limited) run is planned for December 2015, for more details see www.confrontrecordings.com and davidsylvian.com

 

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7 thoughts on “David Sylvian – Playing The Schoolhouse (CCS51)

  1. almonious December 26, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    I don’t get it. Why would an artist limit exposure to his work in such a way?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jack December 27, 2015 / 12:52 am

      Quoted from the Confront Recordings site: mark’s approach to running his label is one I admire. along with numerous other labels i could mention, this is a one man operation and a labour of love. he brings to light work which might otherwise never be heard. others do the same and, in my opinion, deserve support. It’s wonderful that so many have shown an interest in this piece that lies so far from the songwriting most seem to hunger for. I’m grateful for that. (DAVID SYLVIAN)

      He’s never been one for maximum exposure, nor have I ever read an article where he’s shown profound interest in being popular even slightly. It’s probably not really a big deal whether or not it’s mass produced or in limited bundles. It’s also just the way the label works, too.

      Like

  2. Kevin December 26, 2015 / 9:39 pm

    I would not characterize it as “avant garde jazz”. At least, not the “jazz” part.

    Like

    • Anthony Denby January 2, 2016 / 4:28 pm

      no melody, no discernible rhythm, no instruments except “found objects”…..I’m sorry, but I’m not tempted to seek it out; DS is so frustrating to follow, when he has the gift of his voice and the ability to create beautiful melodies, and yet he chooses to release this sort of self indulgent nonsense. The Nine Horses album was avant garde and moved music on in a certain way, but there was still beauty, wit and poetry. Come on David, …where is the poetry?

      Like

  3. Matt January 8, 2016 / 3:44 am

    Have to agree with Anthony. What is this nonsense and why did I spend any money on it? I’m open but where is the Real David Sylvian burning bright from inside out???

    Like

  4. Vincent March 19, 2016 / 2:43 am

    Agree with those above. Waste of my time , emotional and financial investment. No melody, no vocals. No respect for lifelong fans anymore. I have persisted over the years but would seriously question any further purchases into the future until I have researched the general tone of reviews. Very disappointing!

    Like

  5. Kerry July 4, 2016 / 4:36 am

    I am still a huge fan of Davids and have been since the late 80s. I have owned everything David. To set a context for what I am about to say I will say that I love both Blemish and Manafon although it took me a while to acclimate to Blemish. I hear something worthy of hearing in almost all of Sylvian’s releases. Playing The Schoolhouse? It truly is nothing more than 15 minutes of noise with no redeeming value whatsoever. A very long 15 minutes it is. Anyone could have recorded it. Many have recorded such drivel in the avant-garde world. There is nothing here that sets it apart it from the noise many have already released. Music? No. Noise. Yes. Bad noise.

    Like

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