Search - David Sylvian :: Dead Bees on a Cake

Dead Bees on a Cake
David Sylvian
Dead Bees on a Cake
Genres: Alternative Rock, New Age, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

Perhaps the finest achievement of David Sylvian's enigmatic career, Dead Bees on a Cake represents a graceful personal and spiritual exploration. Set to a lush, ethereal, engaging bed of distinctive and sophisticated pop a...  more »


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All Artists: David Sylvian
Title: Dead Bees on a Cake
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Virgin Records Us
Original Release Date: 3/30/1999
Release Date: 3/30/1999
Album Type: Import
Genres: Alternative Rock, New Age, Pop, Rock
Styles: Progressive, Progressive Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 724384707125, 0724384707156, 724384707156

Perhaps the finest achievement of David Sylvian's enigmatic career, Dead Bees on a Cake represents a graceful personal and spiritual exploration. Set to a lush, ethereal, engaging bed of distinctive and sophisticated pop arrangements, it combines the best qualities of Sylvian's post-Japan work. Four years in the making, it is artful and tasteful from the opening Bryan Ferry-style ballad "I Surrender" to the bluesy "Midnight Sun" and the delightful "Krishna Blue." There are contributions from sometime collaborator Ryuichi Sakamoto as well as a classy, eclectic group of musicians including Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Talvin Singh, and Sylvian's brother, Steve Hansen, but Sylvian is definitely in the fore here. Dead Bees on a Cake will be a surprising discovery for fans of Sade, John Martyn, and the Blue Nile, and it may afford Sylvian overdue recognition as an uncommonly gifted pop composer and singer. --John Sutton-Smith

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CD Reviews

A classic - but not for the die-hards.
T L R | Tulsa, OK United States | 02/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"David Sylvian simply never fails to impress me. Even Darshan, a seeming half-hearted effort (w/ Robert Fripp), has a few moments of brilliance but, Dead Bees on a Cake is a whole different beast all together and harks back to his Brilliant Trees days for it's beauty, restraint, and pervasive ambiance. However, some fans will definitely be disappointed. Gone are the esoteric musings and experimentation. Gone are the cold and bleakness he dabbled in with Gone to Earth and which he immersed himself in with Secrets of the Beehive. Although this effort's intention is inextricably connected with the latter, I believe it to be only to the extent of the exorcism of those proverbial ghosts that David has wailed about these past twenty years and which came to a climax with Secrets of the Beehive. The bees are their secrets are dead indeed. Like Sade's new album, this one's a long time coming. And also like Sade, you can tell that David has changed. The most apparent aspect reflected in the album is that David is in love. There's a very relaxed and uninhibited quality to the songs where his earlier work, although just as beautiful, seemed to have an edge and somewhat angst ridden. Don't get me wrong, there are some cuts here that hasten one back to previous material but, overall, it is much more accessible in terms of its messages - it seems that Ingrid has brought him much peace. Maybe the "cake" is "love".This effort is much more diverse than anything before - especially stylistically. From the Mississippi delta driven Midnight Sun, (with a wonderful touch of Gil Evan's like brass section), to the exotic, sexy, Hindu inspired Krishna Blue, to the loungy Rhodes chillin' Wanderlust.Mere words cannot convey how good this album is. Thalhiem is simply remarkable. Its by far my favorite track in addition to Alphabet Angel and Wanderlust. I wanted Alphabet Angel to go on forever, but for the first time ever, David isn't as self-indulgent. The song's structure could easily warrant endless exploration, however David simply stops and the senses collapse, craving more - which I'm sure was his intent: his premise probably being simply "why do it" when any sensitive listener can improvise the rest. The melody is undeniably that true to form, spookily familiar, and is unshakable.The usual suspects are here: Sakamoto and David's brother Steve Jansen. Great ECM luminaries like Steve Tibbetts, Kenny Wheeler, and Bill Frisell. Even Tony Barberella from the Prince camp joined in, (for obvious reasons). Minneapolis is in full effect with Tibbets, Chavez, Barberella with God Man sounding suspiciously familiar! (this is the only track I didn't really care for)David's albums have always possessed this very self-effacing, introspective "way" about them that would seem out of place being played on the radio or at parties. This album, much more than ever, is one to explore alone but, for the first time, some songs are comfortable enough to share with someone you love. Very romantic indeed.I don't know what Shree Maa is singing about but it makes me want to weep - in sadness and in joy.It's taken me a while, since I first heard the album, to write this review and, I believe that, if some fans would have waited to issue their initial impressions, their reviews would be different. This is a classic if there ever was one. Every artist must grow and change - their fans too, but it should be no surprise to anyone that, more often than not, it is not synchronized. It's still David: just a different David."
Hive Minded...every song full of honey!
Mars Velvet | Green Tree, Blue Earth...Deep Space | 10/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Despite being a bit obsessed with bees(this album's title, the album SECRETS OF THE BEEHIVE, and the song "Pollen Path"), David has at last collected sweet nector and placed it into every song of this magical album.A mixture of different colors of music such as electronica, world, new age, jazz, and solid songwriting give this album a sweet taste to enjoy and a sweet scent to follow. Look no furthur than the first song "I Surrender". A rather long piece feauturing an electronica loop and jazz guitar, horn and flute, is a declaration of surrendering the soul to love in only a way David can convey."Dobro #1" is a short impromtu aching poem soothed by the twang of the dobro. Makes you want to hear the other numbers he must have done with this instrument! (Two more Dobro songs eventually ended up on the anthology EVERYTHING AND NOTHING)."Midnight Sun" is an amazing blues inspired creation of wooden rhythms, blues gritty guitar, and a brass ensemble emulating a harsh wind backing David's accusation that "you've stolen the moon"! One of the finest moments on this collection."Thailheim" meanders thru what seems like two songs put together like two rivers converging. A merging sound of airy far off music and David's honeyed words.Other standout tracks include "Krishna Blue", "Shining of Things" (weeping strings are the only backup for David's is unbelievably incredible to hear!!), "All My Mother's Names", the walking gait of "Wanderlust" and the final moment with David on "Darkest Dreaming" brings afternoon to evening.This is an album carefully crafted with each song supporting the next finishing off with sweet words, inspired music, and of course...bees."
Some great moments, but really sort of bland...
Kevin O'Conner | 07/23/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Many out there will put this down to over-inflated expectations, but, from its oddball, is-this-a-joke-or-what title to its reliance on pop music cliches both lyrical and musical, Dead Bees On A Cake is a disappointment. The album does have its moments, but not enough to make it the essential listen that most of Sylvian's previous albums have been.In its favor, the Dead Bees On A Cake maintains a mostly warm, intimate feel throughout ("I surrender", the first single, is the best example of this), and there are flashes of past brilliance ("Pollen path" has some of the feel of Sylvian/Fripp's The First Day album, "The shining of things" would be right at home on Secrets Of The Beehive, and the instrumentation of "Praise" and "Darkest dreaming" recalls Flux & Mutability).On the other hand, too many of the songs resort to cliches - "Midnight sun", the 'let me take you down...' refrain of "Cafe Europa", and the line 'couldn't leave you if I tried' from "Thalheim" are prime examples - that make them somewhat predictable, and "Wanderlust" switches gears into an uncomfortably American-sounding progression that recalls some of the worst of late-seventies/early-eighties MOR album rock.Worst of all are the cliches that have befallen many rock stars once they've found happiness in their personal lives. He's included his wife in the proceedings (just like Lennon and McCartney), he's written a boring song for his kid (just like Lennon, Paul Weller, Eric Clapton, etc.), and he's found Eastern-based religion and a guru and incorporated elements of both in his music (just like George Harrison). This is particularly disappointing, especially since David Sylvian has spent much of his solo career distancing himself from the usual pop/rock cliches - or at least incorporating them only on rare occasions, and only when using them gave the songs greater impact.Finally, the patchwork quality of the album makes it less enjoyable as an overall experience. It's commendable that not every song sounds the same, but there does not seem to be even a consistent feel that unifies the album as a complete work. Sylvian has admitted that other things distracted his attention away from the music during the recording of this album; unfortunately, it shows.The final verdict? Dead Bees On A Cake works quite well if you're just playing it in the background, at reduced volume, while you're doing something else - but it doesn't inspire the careful, attentive listening and total immersion of his earlier works."