David Sylvian has cut a maverick path in the three decades since he called a halt to his superior synth group, Japan, in 1982. A Victim Of Stars offers a broadly chronological journey through an often brilliant body of work, bringing together for the first time Sylvian’s 80s and 90s work as one of the most idiosyncratic characters on the Virgin roster, and his more recent excursions on his own samadhisound label.
Almost every one of the 31 tracks here feels like a highlight as Sylvian moves effortlessly from jazz to rock, ambient improvisation to glitchy electronica. Forbidden Colours still sparkles; Let The Happiness In soothes and unnerves in equal measure; The Banality Of Evil explores the space between jazz and rock; A Fire In The Forest flickers and twitches but retains a strong sense of melody. There are also frequent guest spots from the wide range of musicians Sylvian has collaborated with over the years, including Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, guitarists Robert Fripp and Bill Nelson, Swedish vocalist Stina Nordenstam, jazz saxophonist Evan Parker, and Sylvian’s brother, former Japan drummer Steve Jansen, with whom he later formed the groups Rain Tree Crow and Nine Horses. Longtime fans won’t find much here that they don’t know already, but for the uninitiated or those in need of a refresher course, this is the perfect place to start.