As popular musicians they get older, they tend to move towards sparer, acoustic delivery - and this has been accentuated by the peculiar position of the 00s with respect to popular music. On the one hand, it's the decade in which the artists of the late 70s and early 80s - that is, the artists who drew on production as never before - have started to age. At the same time, it's the decade in which the artists of the 60s and 70s have started to feel well and truly aged. As a result, there's been a kind of rediscovery of the possibilities of acoustic recording, a new conception and appreciation of late work, in which the acoustic forays of, say, Bob Dylan and Bernard Sumner, find an unlikely common denominator. What makes Manafon so striking is that it is manifestly not of this moment - an idiosyncrasy that has its origins in David Sylvian's own quite idiosyncratic relationship with the musical moment he spearheaded. Whether we choose to call this glam, art rock or new wave, it was an aesthetic driven by aestheticism, an artifice that believed in itself with a completely unartificial fervor. But, unlike most other late 70s and early 80s pop aestheticism - and particularly unlike Roxy Music, with which it was often compared - it was an aestheticism that was ultimately driven by a quest for purification. If it embraced technological production, it was only for the sake of pursuing a technological silence, more compelling than any acoustic silence - or, rather, to recover the technological silence within acoustic silence, the fact that acoustic music was already synthesized. It's with Manafon that this process feels complete, as Sylvian crafts a kind of two-tiered silentscape, layering the silence we can hear over the silence we can't hear - the personnel credits include a sine wave programmer and no input programmer - and providing the single strongest indication that his fascination with Japanese music has never been mere exoticism, but an index of his interest in just this second silence, this immanence. This isn't to say that it's an ambient album either - it's his most exquisitely compelling suite of songs since his work with Rain Tree Crow - but it's the very way in which the songcraft recalls his classic period that makes it clear that the silence we're hearing is studio silence, and that the silence we're not hearing is just what that period was striving for, a distillate of its finest moments.