Having previously drummed for electronic music pioneers Silver Apples, Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Xian Hawkins started making records under the name Sybarite in 1999, issuing a wide array of 7" singles through the Emanate, Zealectronic and Static Caravan labels. The best of these were compiled on the Placement Issues CD on Temporary Residence Limited, who also released Musicforafilm, Sybarite's soundtrack for the movie Kill Me Tomorrow.
Xian made his 4AD debut in September 2002 with the Nonument album, which brought his talents as an arranger sharply into focus. The ability to combine live instruments and programmed parts into a free-breathing, organic whole always marked Sybarite apart from the electronica crowd, but Nonument's deftness was revelatory. Strings and acoustic guitars offered mellow resonance, while live drums mingled with programmed rhythms. Sybarite's palette was further widened by the introduction of trumpet (courtesy of Matt Hilgenberg) and, for the first time, vocals (by Brooke Williams and Gregory Kenney). Inspired by architecture ('Renzo Piano') and modern art ('Unica Zurn') as much as by music, the album was deeply melodic despite its many structural shifts and subtleties.
The three-track Scene Of The Crime EP followed shortly afterwards, its lead track featuring guest vocals by Elysian Fields chanteuse Jennifer Charles, who had previously worked with Kid Koala, Dan the Automator and John Zorn.