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Dead Bees On A Cake
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: David Sylvian (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, bass, programming, samples); Shree Maa, Ingrid Chavez (vocals); Marc Ribot (acoustic, electric & slide guitars); Bill Frisell (acoustic guitar, dobro); Lawrence Feldman (flute); Deepak Ram (Bansuri flute); Kenny Wheeler (flugelhorn); Ryuichi Sakamoto (Fender Rhodes piano, loops, samples); Tommy Barbarella (Fender Rhodes piano); Chris Minh Doky (acoustic bass); John Giblin (bass); Ged Lynch, Scooter Warner (drums); Steve Jansen (cymbals, percussion, loops); Talvin Singh (tabla, percussion); Steve Tibbetts (gong).
  • Recorded at Right Track Studios, New York, New York; Real World Studio, Box, England; Sound House Studio, Seattle, Washington; Atma Sound and Seedy Underbelly, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Synergy Studio, Napa, California.
  • Composer: David Sylvian.
  • Personnel: David Sylvian (vocals, keyboards, sampler); Shree Maa, Ingrid Chavez (vocals); Marc Ribot (guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar); Tommy Barbarella (guitar, Fender Rhodes piano, drum programming); Bill Frisell (acoustic guitar, dobro); Ryuichi Sakamoto (acoustic guitar, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards); Lawrence Feldman (flute); Deepak Ram (bansuri); Kenny Wheeler (flugelhorn); Chris Minh Doky (double bass); Scooter Warner, Ged Lynch (drums); Talvin Singh (tabla, percussion); Steve Jansen (percussion); Steve Tibbetts (gong).
  • Recording information: Right Track Studio.
  • Unknown Contributor Roles: Kenny Wheeler; Steve Jansen ; Bill Frisell.
  • After graduating from the avant-rock finishing school that was Japan, Sylvian spent the '90s redefining the role of the singer-songwriter. On each of his solo releases he's demonstrated increasingly more adventurous sonic experimentalism, all the while developing his songcraft and production skills. DEAD BEES ON A CAKE is the culmination of all his previous efforts, offering a perfect blend of unconventionality and accessibility.
  • As on Sylvian's previous albums, there's a combination of jazz, ambient and world music influences, but one new wrinkle is a distinct R&B flavor on several tracks, as evidenced by the syncopated drum loops and punchy rhythm guitar accents. Sylvian's in no danger of becoming the avant garde R. Kelly, though--"All of My Mother's Names" is a blazing modern jazz instrumental, while "Pollen Path" is an outre affair that boasts a John Cage sample. Sylvian's Buddhist faith informs most of the lyrics, and undoubtedly inspired the Eastern modalities that crop up throughout. Of course, his deep, smooth voice is as rich and inviting an instrument as ever. A challenging album that defies expectations, DEAD BEES is both strikingly unusual and warmly engaging.
Professional Reviews
Entertainment Weekly (4/2/99, p.94) - "...Sylvian isn't just another New Age somnambulist; his chill-out aesthetic also finds a place for knotty jazz arrangements that echo BITCHES BREW-era Miles as well as some tantric trance beats from Talvin Singh. Sylvian may ride a mellow vibe, but he's not asleep at the wheel." - Rating: B+

The Wire (1/00, p.67) - Included in Wire Magazine's "50 Records Of The Year ['99]"

The Wire (3/99) - "...The record is a sophisticated, contented collection, but also the hard won result of a musical struggle....there's no more eyeliner and adolescent squirming, but there's still sex in that grainy voice, and this new glam R&B will do just fine..."

CMJ (4/19/99, p.26) - "...shows Sylvaian in a more organic mood than usual, with the increased intimacy suiting the poetic, spiritual mysticism of his lyrics..."

Mojo (Publisher) (2/99, pp.88-89) - "...this is a record to stir hopes that an artist who has fallen off the map of fashion and commerciality can at least do well enough to get his music out there once again..."

NME (Magazine) (4/3/99, p.38) - "...DEAD BEES ON A CAKE is the bittersweet treat its title suggests."
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