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David Sylvian - Synths
Old 26th September 2012
  #31
Gear Head
 
KlangKunst's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Obviously Sylvian has used different equipment over time. I remember a Keyboard mag interview sometime in the 80s where he was using a Prophet VS. He used to have posted on his website photos of tour rehearsals where he was playing a Nord Lead 3. He was still using the Steinberger guitar when I saw him on the Everything and Nothing Tour in '02.

Sakamoto switched to a DX7 in the 80s for his main synth and became a prolific programmer on it. The "Bamboo Music/Bamboo Houses" single with Sylvian sounds like it has DX7 all over it.

The first time I saw Porcupine Tree back in the 00's, Barbieri was still using the Prophet 5. The last time I saw them, the P5 was no longer there and he was using a Roland V-Synth as his main board.
Old 26th September 2012 | Show parent
  #32
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atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I'm so happy to see so many other Sylvian fans out there. He's always held this really special place in my heart (growing up as a teenager listening to things like Brilliant Trees and Gone to Earth completely changed my ideas about music, and were some of my first introductions to experimental/underground artists in the early/mid-nineties). As I said, he really is my idol, and it's very rare for me to feel strongly about any particular musician the way I do about Sylvian and his work. I feel like I was a rare exception, as someone introduced to his work a decade+ afterward to actually appreciate him (and associated artists), and I worry that the newer generation of electronic producers (Dubstep, et al) will gloss over some of these originators of exceptional experimental electronic music. Thanks for sharing all the info!
Old 26th September 2012 | Show parent
  #33
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Longtime fan here, too. The D50 has been mentioned but I hear at least one D 50 preset in one of the songs from "Gone to Earth " . I know the tour book from that era has a D50 clearly identified on stage
Old 27th September 2012 | Show parent
  #34
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➑️
I'm so happy to see so many other Sylvian fans out there. He's always held this really special place in my heart (growing up as a teenager listening to things like Brilliant Trees and Gone to Earth completely changed my ideas about music, and were some of my first introductions to experimental/underground artists in the early/mid-nineties). As I said, he really is my idol, and it's very rare for me to feel strongly about any particular musician the way I do about Sylvian and his work. I feel like I was a rare exception, as someone introduced to his work a decade+ afterward to actually appreciate him (and associated artists), and I worry that the newer generation of electronic producers (Dubstep, et al) will gloss over some of these originators of exceptional experimental electronic music. Thanks for sharing all the info!

Here here!

-andrews
Old 27th September 2012 | Show parent
  #35
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chromex ➑️
Longtime fan here, too. The D50 has been mentioned but I hear at least one D 50 preset in one of the songs from "Gone to Earth " . I know the tour book from that era has a D50 clearly identified on stage
Maybe they toured with it, but hard to believe it was used during the production of the album. Gone to Earth came out in 1986, so easy to assume it was being recorded before that year... D50 came out in 1987.

Brilliant Trees, Gone To Earth, and ALCHEMY, An index of Possibilities are still in heavy rotation here... I always associate the sounds in those beautiful albums with the Prophet 5, and the Prophet VS.
Old 27th September 2012
  #36
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➑️
I'm so happy to see so many other Sylvian fans out there. He's always held this really special place in my heart (growing up as a teenager listening to things like Brilliant Trees and Gone to Earth completely changed my ideas about music, and were some of my first introductions to experimental/underground artists in the early/mid-nineties). As I said, he really is my idol, and it's very rare for me to feel strongly about any particular musician the way I do about Sylvian and his work. I feel like I was a rare exception, as someone introduced to his work a decade+ afterward to actually appreciate him (and associated artists), and I worry that the newer generation of electronic producers (Dubstep, et al) will gloss over some of these originators of exceptional experimental electronic music. Thanks for sharing all the info!
Have to agree, sometimes I start to feel that electronic music now has in some ways become a narrower field. It seems every time I'm told something is cutting edge I listen and it's just using distortion. When did electronic music become heavy metal?
Old 29th September 2012 | Show parent
  #37
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lestermagneto's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chromex ➑️
Longtime fan here, too. The D50 has been mentioned but I hear at least one D 50 preset in one of the songs from "Gone to Earth " . I know the tour book from that era has a D50 clearly identified on stage
yeah, the d-50 was not out when that record came out. would like to know more about the fripp guitar treatments on that record, and the amazing pads, like on answered prayers etc... the d-50 seemed like a quick way to get those particular sounds at the time, but sylvian was doing kind of his own LA synthesis the hard way, using attack transients from synths with lots of sustain portions being generated by clever delay and reverb treatments... "live", those sounds would be hard to get, requiring I imagine tons of patching, level setting, manipulation etc, so the d-50 could ballpark it pretty well, without the same depth and animation...
Old 29th September 2012 | Show parent
  #38
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atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbeej ➑️
Have to agree, sometimes I start to feel that electronic music now has in some ways become a narrower field.
because it HAS. that group of artists were doing very refined, elegant, mature, creative music. i feel like the new generation of artists are making pretentious, ostentatious, cookie-cutter tracks that lack the artistry and sophistication of those original artists and it's a shame.

i think part of it is this idea that electronic music is now somehow inextricably tied to the idea of "dance music", which was never the original focus of the genre, and i think it's cheapened the artform considerably because of it.

the music from artists like sylvian, fripp, eno, budd, hassell, sakamoto, et al., was always cerebral, contemplative, reflective, etc. when you throw in the concept of "dance" into the equation, all those elements go out the window.
Old 29th September 2012 | Show parent
  #39
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bigbongo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Sylvian's current stuff I can appreciate as 'interesting' but I find it hard to love; the last tracks I heard of his that I really liked were the collaborations he did with Christian Fennesz.
Old 30th September 2012 | Show parent
  #40
Gear Maniac
 
Stolle's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I find his "Nine Horses" album absolutely wonderful.
Old 4th May 2014
  #41
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
im a huge fan of sylvan and love his last few albums with a passion, his collabs with Fennesz are sublime on albums like Blemish and Manafon. Can anyone tell me also what soft synths get that kind of unique edge to his current work. He uses synths so sparingly but the sounds are so different from everyone else. Would love to find a soft synth that can get this.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #42
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lestermagneto ➑️
yeah, the d-50 was not out when that record came out. would like to know more about the fripp guitar treatments on that record, and the amazing pads, like on answered prayers etc..
Yes! What are those pads in "Answered Prayers"? Sounds like a smooth Prophet strings pad and then a "flute" patch as well. This is one of the most beautiful ambient tracks I've ever heard. Haunting.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #43
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Don Solaris's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➑️
that's weird. i can't think of anything he's done that relies heavily on chorus.
I can't explain it. But that bass is either fretless or has a permanent chorus on each track of the Tin Drum album. Or maybe it's just a double track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LIyjx9xNTQ

And the whole album is filled with that chorus like feeling. First thing (after Cocteau Twins and The Cure) when i think of chorus i think of Japan. Maybe it's a coincidence.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #44
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atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris ➑️
I can't explain it. But that bass is either fretless or has a permanent chorus on each track of the Tin Drum album. Or maybe it's just a double track.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LIyjx9xNTQ

And the whole album is filled with that chorus like feeling. First thing (after Cocteau Twins and The Cure) when i think of chorus i think of Japan. Maybe it's a coincidence.
He certainly does play fretless. I know he also has said that he'd often double track the bass and pan each take 50% R & L, which would explain the chorusing sound.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #45
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atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic ➑️
Yes! What are those pads in "Answered Prayers"? Sounds like a smooth Prophet strings pad and then a "flute" patch as well. This is one of the most beautiful ambient tracks I've ever heard. Haunting.
I think it may have been a Prophet VS; a lush pad with some kind of vocal chorus. I've always wondered how Sylvian got such fantastic, organic synth tones on that album.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #46
Gear Guru
 
charles maynes's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lestermagneto ➑️
yeah, the d-50 was not out when that record came out. would like to know more about the fripp guitar treatments on that record, and the amazing pads, like on answered prayers etc... the d-50 seemed like a quick way to get those particular sounds at the time, but sylvian was doing kind of his own LA synthesis the hard way, using attack transients from synths with lots of sustain portions being generated by clever delay and reverb treatments... "live", those sounds would be hard to get, requiring I imagine tons of patching, level setting, manipulation etc, so the d-50 could ballpark it pretty well, without the same depth and animation...
I saw Sylvian live for the Secrets of the Beehive tour, and Richard Barbieri did have a D-50 in his keyboard rig- it was released in 1987 so he probably started using it after Gone to Earth was released....
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #47
Deleted d22f2ee
Guest
its all been covered but i think he leans towards wavesequencing / table synths it would seem , early on the P5 was a big part but i think also the Obx ? Ensoniq Vfx ( want to try one as i never did ) also , they all have in common this ability to make really good orinetal type weird sounds that can almost sound like weird acoutsic instruments , i always related Sylvian to oriental music probably because of Japan but also there is a kind of oriental thing to all his stuff even when its him singing and little else.I think his aim is largely to create hybrid instrument sounds and imagined instruments of a kind or thats my take on what i think he often aims for.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #48
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lestermagneto's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic ➑️
Yes! What are those pads in "Answered Prayers"? Sounds like a smooth Prophet strings pad and then a "flute" patch as well. This is one of the most beautiful ambient tracks I've ever heard. Haunting.
I LOVE that song..... I used to listen to that on a loop back in 1986 to whenever! Simply gorgeous....

Listening to it now, I think there are some borrowed elements from the Eno/Lanois playbook (similar to the Apollo atmospheres treatments or the u2 unforgettable fire/with or without you kinda thing, with a little Harold Budd thrown in for good measure...),

probably both some synths and guitar run through "shimmer" type verbs with probably some tape manipulation in terms of pitch and probably some tracks flipped backwards.... At least thats how I would get there now... with lots of fader play feeding different fx chains and verbs with filters etc.... (the cascading waves and the higher timbre that ebbs and flows beautifully)....

So I seriously doubt it was just a synth into the console! (at the time this record was recorded, fx were not really implemented in synths, there were a few that had simple delays or chorus's or "ensemble" type fx (obviously some of the roland juno units, string machines, some korg stuff etc...), , but it wasn't really until the D50/ and subsequent M1 etc that we saw a lot of sounds that were really really leaning on onboard verb etc... and those were still a little ways off when this song was recorded...

as well as the prophet VS "might" have been around, but I don't think it was used on the recording of the record, the Ensoniq unit mentioned above was still years away.... (I remember I had a esq1 around the time this record came out, but i think that was a year later....)
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #49
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by lestermagneto ➑️
I LOVE that song..... I used to listen to that on a loop back in 1986 to whenever! Simply gorgeous....

probably both some synths and guitar run through "shimmer" type verbs with probably some tape manipulation in terms of pitch and probably some tracks flipped backwards....
Yes, I was thinking there might be an Eventide algorithm in there somewhere, adding the high shimmers.
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #50
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➑️
I think it may have been a Prophet VS; a lush pad with some kind of vocal chorus. I've always wondered how Sylvian got such fantastic, organic synth tones on that album.
Also, the synths and mood of "Answered Prayers" always remind me of the Mellotron parts in "How Is It (We Are Here)" from The Moody Blues:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKgS...odyBlues-Topic

(Listen at 0:18 on, for example)

Just checked and found that (according to Wikipedia at least), Mike Pinder plays not only Mellotron but also unspecified "Moog synthesiser" on this album...no idea if there is Moog on this particular track, but perhaps it's layered with the Mellotron parts.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Question_of_Balance
Old 18th March 2016 | Show parent
  #51
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikael488 ➑️
Maybe someone else can take a guess on the other two Japan tracks that feature the 'tron!!
Nightporter & Burning Bridges? Neither? At least I tried...
Old 19th March 2016 | Show parent
  #52
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John Difool's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris ➑️
I can't explain it. But that bass is either fretless or has a permanent chorus on each track of the Tin Drum album
Wake up Don, the bass player in Japan is Mick Karn, one of the worlds best fretless bass players.

On another note, he also used the OB-X as seen here where he (unusually) is playing the keys:

Old 19th March 2016
  #53
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Gnalvl's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I think this shot shows off some of his wackiest fretless playing in Japan:

https://youtu.be/NjfRscn9hnY?t=42s
Old 19th March 2016 | Show parent
  #54
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Difool ➑️
Wake up Don, the bass player in Japan is Mick Karn, one of the worlds best fretless bass players.

On another note, he also used the OB-X as seen here where he (unusually) is playing the keys:

Thank you for that video link...I always loved this record of Dalis Car. I have it on CD...not too many people seem to know of it, sadly.

Rest in Peace, Mick Karn.
Old 19th March 2016 | Show parent
  #55
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lestermagneto's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Presocratic ➑️
Rest in Peace, Mick Karn.
Absolutely respect and rip to Mick Karn. coincidentally a friend of mine just purchased the vinyl of "The Waking Hour" a few days ago, he had never heard it....... so of course I made him put it on...
Old 19th March 2016 | Show parent
  #56
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Spectralwaves's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
'Gone to Earth' is mainly Prophet VS in the synth dept. as anyone with that synth & the album will recognise.

Otherwise most of the other synths he used were already mentioned by Micke & others a few years ago. Tin Drum- P5 & OBX & System 500 etc

& Yes Mick Karn was always & still is my favourite bass player, absolutly outstanding on the fretless, though I like Tony Levin too & Jean-Jaques Burnell a lot as well as a few others, (including Percy Jones)

Mick is/was a very talented musician ,he also played saxophone, & other exotic eastern wind instruments. I cant imagine Japan would have worked at all without Mick Karn & Steve Jansen. Their tight, deep & grounded rhythms & low end provided the earth & floor for the exotic & wonderful synth textures & melodies .(imo)

Last edited by Spectralwaves; 19th March 2016 at 04:54 AM.. Reason: bassicly..uh
Old 19th March 2016
  #57
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Here's an excellent Sound on Sound article on Sylvian, focusing on "Tin Drum" and "The First Day", but also mentions other works like "Gone to Earth":

David Sylvian: Recording Tin Drum & The First Day
David Sylvian: Recording Tin Drum & The First Day

A quote:
"Richard Barbieri and David Sylvian were together responsible for the unsual synth textures that turned Tin Drum into such a musical milestone. The highly original, organic and off-beat sounds were often reminiscent of unknown, exotic instruments. Despite the incredibly rich variety of synth colors, Barbieri and Sylvian used only the Prophet 5 and the OBX, and some Roland System 700. Barbieri remembers: "We took such care over each individual sound that we got quite paranoid about all sounds being new and different. My big influence on that album was Stockhausen, especially the abstract electronic things he was doing in the late '50s. Listen to a track like 'Ghosts', for example, and you'll hear all these metal-like sounds that hardly have a pitch, yet subconsiously suggest a melody." Questioned about why he and Sylvian used so few synths, Barbieri answers that "when you know a lot about the architectural process within a synthesizer, you can program pretty much any sound you want." Techniques which Sylvian and Barbieri used included the use of pink and white noise from analogue oscillators that led to the characteristic breathy nature of many sounds, and the programming of much movement into the sounds, courtesy of effects like modulation, stereo panning and reverb. These effects were generally included in the sound themselves, as one of the major characteristics of Tin Drum was the extremely dry, close-up sound, courtesy of engineer Steve Nye. Barbieri assesses that creating breathy sounds with much movement isn't so easy on digital synths, and although he did get quite involved in the programming of digital keyboards in recent years -- using the PG1000 programmer with his D50 -- his preference is still for analogue."
Old 19th March 2016
  #58
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VennD68's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Prophet 5
OBX
Occasionally used the System 700 on later Japan material as well.
Hartmann Neuron
Nord Modular
Nord Lead 3
(A lot of prominent use of Nord equipment on the Blemish tour too).
Prophet VS
Work with Barbieri in later material (Rain Tree Crow) would include the Ensoniq VFX-SD and D-50
He was/is a big fan of dictaphone and tape loops as well and then of course he's known to work with the likes of Fennesz, Fripp and so on so probably a lot of Eventide and processing chains.
and DSP based work on the computer too in later material.
Old 14th January 2017
  #59
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo ➑️
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfin ➑️
Anybody know what kind of synths David Sylvian has used over the years? He's always had a very unique sound.
I know Richard Berbieri (who is his brother, if I'm not mistaken, factoid) was a big Prophet 5 guy and I think he continued to do work with David, fwiw.

-andrews
Barbieri is not his brother. His brother is Steve Jansen who was the band's drummer.
Old 14th January 2017 | Show parent
  #60
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slim Railway ➑️
Barbieri is not his brother. His brother is Steve Jansen who was the band's drummer.
This was stated by atma back in 2012... :-)
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