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This Day: February 23

February 23, 2010

A musical birthday for once: Happy Birthday David Sylvian.

Pulling Punches was the first I’d heard of David Sylvian. The school librarian put this track on a mix tape he made me (as well as a track from Sylvian and co’s Rain Tree Crow). I was used to Eighties and early Nineties pop – we only had commercial radio or classic FM. I’d almost gone off songs at this stage: too much New Kids, Boys II Men and Mariah. But Pulling Punches was a revelation to me at a time when I was gaining an interest in instrumental music: jazz, prog rock, and funk. Pulling punches showed me the elements of pop could be rearranged into something different; something edgier. For instance, snap brass was not uncommon during those years, but mostly in a faux-gospel songs; even worse was the faux-brass keyboard variety. (The age of ska in the charts was over.) Similarly sax or trumpet solos in pop were smooth and sensuous. On the other hand the trumpet on Pulling Punches sounded drunk and jerky. The bass was pure funk, but the guitar accents weren’t. The piano sounded like it should live in something more polite. The whole collage was my insight that there was a whole world of song left untouched by commercial radio.

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