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Alchemy: An Index of Possibilites
David Sylvian
Alchemy: An Index of Possibilites
Genres: Alternative Rock, New Age, Pop, Rock, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

Full title - Alchemy An Index Of Possibilities. 2003 digitally remastered reissue of 1985 album packaged in a deluxe digipak. Guests include Steve Jansen, Jon Hassell, Holger Czukay, John Taylor, Robert Fripp & Ryuichi ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: David Sylvian
Title: Alchemy: An Index of Possibilites
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Caroline
Original Release Date: 1/1/1985
Re-Release Date: 10/21/2003
Album Type: Limited Edition, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Soundtrack
Genres: Alternative Rock, New Age, Pop, Rock, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Vocal Pop, Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724359130828


Album Description
Full title - Alchemy An Index Of Possibilities. 2003 digitally remastered reissue of 1985 album packaged in a deluxe digipak. Guests include Steve Jansen, Jon Hassell, Holger Czukay, John Taylor, Robert Fripp & Ryuichi Sakamoto. Virgin.

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CD Reviews

An Enigmatic and Eclectic Mix
Thomas Horan | Chapel Hill, NC | 02/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"David Sylvian, the Lord Byron of Post-Rock, is infamous for obscure and limited edition releases. Now that he has left Virgin Records after more than twenty years, much of this rare material is finally becoming widely and affordably available. This CD collects remastered instrumental tracks from projects Sylvian was involved with in the mid to late eighties. Here's how it breaks down....Words With The Shaman (tracks 1-3) is a three-part EP recorded with John Hassell in 1985. The first section is rhythmic, mysterious, and features wailing female vocals in a foreign tongue. The shorter second section is much like the first, but when the rhythm shifts, horns and an electric guitar kick in. The third and final section starts as a gentle Gamelan piece but grows more intense, like the fall of spring rain on tin rooftops. Words With The Shaman has been available for years as three bonus tracks on the Caroline Records edition of Brilliant Trees. Preparations For A Journey (track 4) was originally recorded in 1984 with Seigin Ono for a Japanese documentary about Sylvian's life. Characteristically, the film eventually aired on Japanese television with no accompanying music. It is the most East Asian sounding song on this collection. Its electronically treated melody is enchanting, exotic, and sublime. The Stigma Of Childhood (Kin) (track 5) is a ravishing fragment of a longer piece written for Gaby Agis' modern ballet of the same title back in 1987. It sounds like a long, ambient, arabesque outtake from the instrumental half of Gone To Earth. Sylvian refuses even now to release the entire score, saying only that this song represents the strongest material from the project. A Brief Conversation Ending In Divorce (track 6) is a curiously ludic and clever, jazz-inflected b-side from Sylvian's 1989 Pop Song single. A skeletal version of the final song on this compilation, Steel Cathedrals (track 7), was written for the Japanese documentary mentioned earlier. Finishing touches were added in London with the help of Ryuichi Sakamoto (of YMO), King Crimsoner Robert Fripp, Masami Tsuchiya (Japan's tour guitarist), and Kenny Wheeler among others. This long, atmospheric, composition sounds New Agey but slightly unsettling. It reminds me of the albums Sylvian would do later on with Holger Czukay, though the horn section clearly anticipates "Laughter and Forgetting" on the vocal portion of Gone To Earth. The tasteful packaging and crisp sound quality will do these songs justice for Sylvian completists, but this is not a good choice for people new to Sylvian's work. Find out why Sylvian has been called the last romantic and the most beautiful man in the world by beginning with Brilliant Trees, Secrets of the Beehive, or Japan's swansong: Tin Drum. Once you're hooked you'll make it to this disc sooner or later."
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 08/23/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Originally an EP featuring experiments in world music by David Sylvian, "Alchemy- An Index of Possibilities" has been expanded since then to include several instrumental tracks recorded in 1984 and 1985, with one additional track from 1989.

Musically, it's clear Sylvian is trying to learn where he's trying to go with things. "Words With the Shaman", a three part suite featuring contributions from Holger Czukay and Steve Jansen (among others) is an exercise in tribal rhythms and odd melodic invention before falling into an electronic variant of the same thing. It's not a bad track, but it's not altogether too exciting either, and Sylvian would have much greater acheivements as an instrumental composer on "Gone to Earth". Similarly, "Preparations for a Jounrey" isn't altogether stimulating and finds itself in a similar vein and the somewhat overlong "Steel Cathedrals", notable as Sylvian's first recorded encounter with guitar virtuoso Robert Fripp, is nice enough, and certainly it takes unexpected directions.

The track from 1989, "A Brief Conversation Ending in Divorce", is largely a framing for the piano of John Taylor. Largely consisting of electronic synth noises and Taylor's splattered piano, it sounds both out of place with the rest of the material and somewhat unegaging to my ears.

For all of this though, there is some startling beauty on this record-- "The Stigma of Childhood (Kin)", originally commissioned for a dance, is stunning. Featuring a repeated synthesizer phrase and some absolutely beautiful clean tone electric guitar soloing (from Sylvian), it is both delicate and beautiful and well worth the listen.

This reissue features cleanly remastered sound, allowing any subtleties (particularly in "Steel Cathedrals") to shine brightly. The whole thing is packaged in a digipack.

But really being nice enough is the problem with the record. It's ok, but Sylvian's done so much better-- this is obviously an artist who is searching, and I'm inclined to believe he found what he was looking for on "Gone To Earth"."
Transcendent music from a master artist
B. J. C. White | Christchurch, New Zealand | 05/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OK, OK, David Sylvian is my favourite artist bar none, and its hard to remove the blinkers when it comes to evaluating his music. But this effort, particularly the opening suite "Words With The Shaman" is an aural ticket to different ways of thinking and being. But quite apart from such maunderings, I really recommend listening to this for sheer pleasure: the pounding or subtle rhythm and marvellous guitar abstractions, the vocals hovering at the edge of comprehension, everything pitched exactly as it ought to be...
The rest of this disc is highly recommended also: "Steel Cathedrals" prefigures the haunting, ominous later work with Holger Czukay before leaping into unbridled optimism (and then, limping to a standstill). "Preparations for a Journey" used to annoy me immensely when I was 14 but these days I just sit back and enjoy the going-nowhere-but-here meanderings and textures.