While Best Of... collections are common for artists who are looking to fulfill contractual obligations (Sylvian recently ended his long-term relationship with Virgin), Everything and Nothing is much more than an obligatory greatest hits package -- which in Sylvian's case would be inappropriate anyway, as commercial radio in the US has ignored his sweeping brand of avante pop altogether. What we have here is a self-produced double album that eschews chronology in favor of mood. This is the mark of good production on every level, and gives the album an undeniable freshness, even if some of its earliest material is two decades old.
The album also works well as a sampler of Sylvian's numerous collaborations. He has been known to keep good company, and a slew of familiar names from the worlds of 20th century classical music, film composition and progressive rock appear in the liner notes. How good is the company? Well, can you come up with another contemporary musician who counts Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Frisell, John Cage, Mark Isham, Marc Ribot and Robert Fripp as sidemen?
Musically rich throughout, Everything and Nothing is a spotlight for Sylvian's stylish, Brian Ferry-inspired baritone, his fascination with eastern culture and spirituality and the beautiful orchestrations of songs like "God's Monkey", "I Surrender" and "Some Kind of Fool". For the unfamiliar, this album is a must for fans of Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk and Scott Walker, whose own collaboration with Sylvian has been popping up on the Internet recently.
Those already familiar with Sylvian's work should keep their eyes peeled for the announcement of live performances stateside. With this comparatively rare opportunity on the horizon, Everything and Nothing offers a welcome appetizer.