David Sylvian PhotoBORN: February 23, 1958, Lewisham, London, England

Following the 1982 dissolution of Japan, the group's onetime frontman David Sylvian staked out a far-ranging and esoteric career which encompassed not only solo projects but also a series of fascinating collaborative efforts and forays into filmmaking, photography and modern art. Born David Batt in Kent, England on February 23, 1958, Sylvian formed Japan in 1974, and served as their primary singer/songwriter throughout the group's eight-year existence. Just prior to Japan's break-up, Sylvian began working with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, with whom he released the single "Bamboo Houses" in 1982, marking the beginning of a long-standing musical relationship.

After 1983's "Forbidden Colours," another joint effort with Sakamoto composed for the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Sylvian released his 1984 solo debut, Brilliant Trees. The first step in his music's evolution from Japan's post-glam synth-pop into richly-textured, poetic ambience, the album featured contributions from Sakamoto as well as Jon Hassell and Can alumnus Holger Czukay. That year, Sylvian also published his first book of photographs, Perspectives: Polaroids 82/84; in 1985, he released Preparations for the Journey, a documentary filmed in and around Tokyo, as well as the EP Words With the Shaman.

Gone to Earth, an ambitious double-LP recorded with assistance from Robert Fripp and Bill Nelson, followed in 1986, while 1987 marked the release not only of the beautful Secrets of the Beehive album but also the book collection Trophies: The Lyrics of David Sylvian. At the same time, he began composing the score for modern dancer Gaby Abis' Kin, which premiered at London's Almeida Theater that September; another collaboration with Abis, Don't Trash My Altar, Don't Alter My Trash, bowed in November 1988.

Also in 1988, Sylvian reunited with Holger Czukay for the instrumental LP Plight and Premonition; the duo reteamed in 1989 for Flux + Mutablitity. Ember Glance: the permanence of memory, an installation of sculpture, sound and light created by Sylvian and Russell Mills, was staged in Tokyo Bay, Shinagawa in 1990; a year later, he and the other members of Japan, who had briefly reunited under the name Rain Tree Crow, issued a self-titled album. In 1994, Sylvian emerged in tandem with Robert Fripp for both an album, The First Day, and Redemption, another sound-and-image installation exhibited in Japan. The superb Dead Bees on a Cake followed in 1999; Approaching Silence, a collection of instrumental material, appeared later that fall. In fall 2000 Sylvian returned with the double-disc Everything & Nothing, which made for an excellent introduction to some of Sylvian's projects that had finally taken shape after composition completion, financial settlements, and time restrainsts throughout his solo career. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide