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David Sylvian and Robert Fripp – Darshana (Future Sound of London Reconstruction) (90s – 87)

May 25, 2013

Of all the things to find in Dubbo’s Big W.

Darshan (Road To Graceland) is in many ways a typical single of the era – a single with remixes. However in this case the single was 18 minutes long, as was one of the remixes, while the other remix is this wonderful 10 minute track which pillages the original for sounds and ignores everything else.

And what a cast. I first heard David Sylvian on two tracks on a mixtape compiled for me by my High School librarian. The same tape contained two tracks from Robert Fripp’s collaboation with Brian Eno. Of both artists I knew I had to hear more. To find them playing together was unexpected. To find it in Dubbo astounding.

Together Sylvian and Fripp created an 18 minute odyssey pitting Fripp’s contorted guitar against programmed beats and Sylvian’s scraps of poetry. I was enthused by the lead track at the time to be honest, though in retrospect I soon realised it not very good. But then came the remixes.

The main remix – and a great improvement overall to the mess made by Sylvin and Fripp – was by the Grid, whose Swamp Thing was still fresh in my mind. The Grid ditched the plodding beats and upped the bass. Still clocking in at around 18 minutes, it had a spring in it’s step and the energy of house to sustain it.

But by far the best thing on this single – and what made a lasting impression – was the glorious 10 minute reconstruction by the Future Sound of London. At this point I’d never heard of them, and it would be a year or so before I reached college just in time for their Dead Cities album. One guitar lick of many was taken as an excuse for a theme, Frippertronics fluttering in the background, the bass drops into a pit, and layers build into something kaleidoscopic. And to top it all off what sounds like a bunch of chittering electronic monks fade in for a final intonation.

(Twice, years later, faced with a large secondhand record store in unlikely places – Armidale and Port Macquarie – and with limited time and fund, I promised myself I would only purchase something if it was by David Sylvian. On both occasions I was shocked to hit the jackpot. One of these occasions it was Sylvian and Fripp’s The First Day, the parent album from whence Darshan originated. I soon learned Darshan was by far the worst thing on the album.

For his own part, Fripp would also appear on albums by the Future Sound of London and the Grid, which was not the last time 70s progressive rock met 90s electronica.)

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