Lucy picked it off my Amazon wishlist and gave it to me for my birthday last year.
Any David Sylvian album is a fair bet to get featured heavily on Radio 3's Late Junction, thanks to it's clear, calm, cool, spacey sound. That it also features a couple of contributions from Scandinavian musicians (Arve Henriksen and Stina Nordenstam) made it a shoo-in. So that's where I heard it first — though Gideon Coe also played a track on his daytime 6 Music show, and Last.fm helped.
The first song starts beautifully and you think you're in for a treat. But at the moment my feeling is that it deflates from there. And I think my problem is with David Sylvian's role. I mentioned before how self-effacing he is — he knows the album would sell more if it went under his own name, but still he chooses a band name that risks escaping the attention of casual followers. But then the way his close-miked voice dominates the space undermines that intent, and makes it feel very much like a David Sylvian solo album. In the process, the shifting relationship between figure and ground has disappeared: now the voice is always figure; the backing music is always ground. Finally, he's still doing that thing of borrowing titles from high-brow writers to show what a heavyweight bookshelf he has: this time he takes The Banality of Evil from Hannah Arendt.
To switch focus for a moment, here's something I only found out recently, though you've probably known it for decades: the reason that David Sylvian and his Japan/Nine Horses bandmate brother Steve Jansen don't have the same surname is that they took their stage names from approximations of New York Dolls band members' names. So Sylvian is a bastardisation of Sylvain Sylvain, and Jansen comes from David Johansen. Had they entered the music business a few years later, we could have had a rock star called Fyodor Proust.
Anyway, ask me again in three years' time and I'll probably say I love this album.
MusicBrainz entry for this album
Wikipedia entry for this album
Rate Your Music entry for this album
Listen to this album in full at Last.fm