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.