Review Summary: A fathomless mastery of musical textures6 of 6 thought this review was well written
David Sylvian is what you would call the genius in the shadows. Since the 70’s he has been involved in numerous underrated projects, let alone collaborating with such artists as Robert Fripp, Bill Frisell, Jon Hassell, and Marc Ribot just to name a few. His childhood was more or less music-ridden and has self-taught himself playing and composing since he was 12. That’s exactly how the nigh absence of outside influence attributes to unparalleled individualism. Each record differs from his next, and nothing sounds uninspired or washed up. Putting all of that aside for a moment, Secrets Of A Beehive, whether or not you remotely care about anything else Sylvian has been associated with, is fluidly, hauntingly, overbearingly, but more importantly, merely powerful. And nothing less.
Weaving between each string arrangement and acoustic free fall lies a broken soul. Sylvian’s assuring and soothing voice never regrets to lament to you of your dismal life, but within the lyrics and music emulates more than just senseless despair. The lack of explanation with language makes describing an album like this almost a futile attempt, however the record breathes on its own, allowing another to speculate on the marvels of the atmosphere instilling visions right in front of you. Throughout the individual elements each song displays the album plays through as collective, cohesive, and extremely conscious thoughts that resist the outside influence of tactless depression, but rather influenced by an aura of emotion beyond depression, spiraling through stories amidst keyboard effects and minimalistic drum pulsations in the order of how you want to pass through rock bottom.
No sound is here without reason and immaculate arrangement of instruments in songs such as When Poets Dreamed Of Angels and Let The Happiness In, regardless of how much or little the songs retain, never fail to get their point across, as if each song is a sort of lesson of mind that willfully continues on its own as you unconsciously wander along. The lyrics are merely accompaniment for the music, adding just that much more icing on the cake, and because of this, the vocals either allow plenty of breathing room for the music to do as it will, well illustrated in the extreme jazz stylings of Mother And Child and the hollow and cataleptic Forbidden Colors, or they switch roles, letting the lyrics tell the story as the music harkens the flame to give that much more sensibility to the song, such as in Orpheus and Let The Happiness In.
Secrets Of The Beehive doesn’t come full circle as a stream of consciousness for the sole reason that these sort of expressions do not cease and this leaves one with a bittersweet outlook on this experience, more bitter than sweet as the metaphor of the album title may reveal. The album is the epitome of conscious depression, and basically started the sound of Red House Painters and the like before “slowcore” was even a genre. If you are one who does not appeal to the likes of sadness, this is probably not going to hit you very hard, but will still be enjoyable at the least. For everyone else...welcome home.