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David Sylvian & Holger Czukay

PLIGHT & PREMONITION/ FLUX & MUTABILITY

GRÖNLAND

In his liner notes to 1975’s Discreet Music, Brian Eno wrote of recuperating after an accident, listening to an album of harp music played so quietly it “presented a new way of hearing music: as part of the ambience of the environment”. These two collaborations between Japan mastermind Sylvian and Can’s inspirational Czukay took that further, deliberately adding apparently ‘external’ ambient sounds to their ethereal soundscapes. Drifting, almost New Age, synths were enhanced on Plight by distant, chiming bells and faint radio static, and on the blissful Premonition by undulating pianos, muted disembodied brass, and quietly insistent Morse code beeps. Discerning what was real and what was sampled added to the 1988 album’s haunting appeal, and, emboldened by a Top 75 placing, they returned a year later, with Flux’s Middle Eastern twist on the echoing warmth heard in the second half of Sylvian’s Gone To Earth (1986), and Mutability’s almost suffocatingly affecting melancholy.

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