Dead Bees On A Cake
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Dead Bees On A Cake

Dead Bees on a Cake
David Sylvian-Dead Bees on a Cake-cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released29 March 1999 - 9 April 1999 (Japan)
RecordedRight Track Studios, New York - Real World Studios, Box, Wiltshire - Sound House Studio, Seattle - Atma Sound, Minneapolis - Seedy Underbelly, Minneapolis - Synergy Studio, Napa
GenreArt rock, jazz fusion, world music
Length69:46 (CD)
83:42 (vinyl)
ProducerDavid Sylvian
David Sylvian chronology
Damage: Live
Dead Bees on a Cake
Approaching Silence
Professional ratings
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[2]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[3]

Dead Bees on a Cake is a solo album by British singer-songwriter David Sylvian, released in March 1999. It was his first solo album in 12 years since Secrets of the Beehive.

The album peaked at no. 31 in the UK Albums Chart at release and contained his last UK Top 40 single to date in "I Surrender" (no. 40).[6]

In 2018, the album was released on double vinyl for the first time for Record Store Day. This pressing included four songs originally intended for the album (and previously released as part of Everything and Nothing), and a restructured track order.[7]


Sylvian started out working with Ryuichi Sakamoto in New York and they did three weeks work together. Initially Ryuichi was co-producing the project with Sylvian, and after three weeks work they had about three days work down and it was obvious things weren't working as well as they usually were between the two. So they decided to call it quits. They captured some wonderful moments from the sessions in the string arrangements, the brass and some piano work of Ryuichi's but they were way behind where Sylvian expected to be at that point.

He did a few other sessions in New York and Sylvian then set up a second set of sessions in the Real World Studios in England and the same thing happened to him. He had a series of musicians, and the material wouldn't take shape. The musicians couldn't find their way in the work and it was completely surprising to Sylvian because this had never happened to him before and he didn't think the material was that difficult, so it was baffling. But there he was going through drummer after drummer, bass guitarists, percussionists and really coming away with very, very little.

So Sylvian returned to Minneapolis where he was then living and just basically started sampling the material that he had and reconstructing the arrangements to try and put together a basis from which to get working on the album. Three months and there was very little to show for it. That was the beginning, and it kind of went on like that and he found himself just taking on roles that he hadn't really initially foreseen himself taking on: being the sole producer, taking care of engineering, becoming the maintenance guy, his own studio, anything that just gets down to the basic work of being creative and recording. He reconstructed the pieces through using various samples from a multitude of performances. The challenge really was to keep the whole thing feeling very organic, like there was a group of people playing together, that sonically it sounded very much a part of a whole, which was quite a challenge actually. Probably a greater challenge than actually putting the arrangements together.[8]

Sylvian said about the album 2012:[9]

"I just came up with so many problems with producing it. So many avenues just ended in a kind of a dead end. Using a great deal of new technology this time, a lot of files were lost along the way, but that wasn't the only problem. Certainly working with different musicians, a couple of producers, I just put a halt to the project numerous times. And at the same time I'd moved to the United States, I'd got married, I had my first child and I was very much involved in that life. I was just so involved in the bringing up of my first daughter and following a far more intensely spiritual path and a spiritual discipline, and that was kind of leading me away from a concentrated focus on music. And every time I returned to the work I liked what I heard, but again every time I got re-immersed in it I would come up against an obstacle of some kind. I just thought it did not want to be completed and thought that maybe this was it. I was happy with the work. It was poorly received, but it did bring my relationship with Virgin Records to an end. I didn't realise how much that would mean to me, but it really did liberate me, and I only recognised that fact once I was in the studio recording Blemish and realising that I really didn't have to go round to sell this idea to anyone. It really opened things up for me, moving away from a major label like that".

Track listing

CD pressing

All tracks are written by David Sylvian, except as noted.

1."I Surrender" 9:24
2."Dobro #1"Sylvian, Bill Frisell1:30
3."Midnight Sun"Sylvian, Johnny Moore, Charles Brown, Eddie Williams4:00
4."Thalheim" 6:07
5."God Man" 4:02
6."Alphabet Angel" 2:06
7."Krishna Blue" 8:08
8."The Shining of Things" 3:09
9."Café Europa" 6:58
10."Pollen Path" 3:25
11."All of My Mother's Names (Summers with Amma)" 6:11
12."Wanderlust" 6:43
13."Praise (Pratah Smarami)"Shree Maa, Sylvian4:02
14."Darkest Dreaming"Sylvian, Djivan Gasparyan4:01
Total length:69:46
2018 vinyl pressing

All tracks are written by David Sylvian, except as noted.

Side A
1."I Surrender" 9:24
2."The Scent of Magnolia" 5:36
3."Dobro #1"Sylvian, Bill Frisell1:30
4."Midnight Sun"Sylvian, Johnny Moore, Charles Brown, Eddie Williams4:00
Total length:20:30
Side B
1."Cover Me with Flowers" 6:33
2."Krishna Blue" 8:08
3."Albuquerque (Dobro #6)"Sylvian, Bill Frisell1:21
Total length:15:32
Side C
1."Thalheim" 6:07
2."Alphabet Angel" 2:06
3."God Man" 4:02
4."Café Europa" 6:58
5."Aparna and Nimisha (Dobro # 5)"Sylvian, Bill Frisell0:56
6."Pollen Path" 3:25
Total length:23:34
Side D
1."The Shining of Things" 3:09
2."Wanderlust" 6:43
3."All of My Mother's Names (Summers with Amma)" 6:11
4."Praise (Pratah Smarami)"Shree Maa, Sylvian4:02
5."Darkest Dreaming"Sylvian, Djivan Gasparyan4:01
Total length:24:06



  • David Sylvian - producer, additional engineer, sound mixing
  • Dave Kent - sound engineer and mixing, studio maintenance
  • Jacquie Turner - assistant engineer
  • Matt Curry - assistant engineer
  • Scott Crane - assistant engineer
  • Bob Ludwig - audio mastering

Art work

  • David Sylvian - art director
  • Yuka Fujii - art director, artwork co-ordinator
  • Shinya Fujiwara - drawings
  • Anton Corbijn - photography
  • Ingrid Chavez - inlay portrait
  • Russell Mills - design (shed)
  • Michael Webster - design assistance (storm)


  1. ^ Dead Bees on a Cake at AllMusic
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press.
  3. ^ "Dead Bees on a Cake". Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ "NME.COM - David Sylvian - Dead Bees On A Cake - 30 March 1999". 17 August 2000. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "David Sylvian: Dead Bees on a Cake". Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "DAVID SYLVIAN | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ Snapes, Laura (6 March 2018). "David Bowie, Prince and Courtney Barnett among Record Store Day exclusive releases". Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ In conversation with David Sylvian by John Sakamoto, Executive Producer: JAM!, Thursday, 25 March 1999
  9. ^ "david-sylvian-interview". 1 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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