Japan - Were they EVER good?

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Someone gave me some Japan discs to listen to (Tin Drum & Gentlemen Take Polaroids.)

In spite of being VERY dated, I tried to listen for some redeeming qualities.. There were some redeeming qualities, but still I couldn't stand listening to any of it... And I'm sure I would have hated it in the 80's also.

But I know they had a following... Anyone? Did you like them at one time? What do you think of them now?

Dave225, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

.. and what do you think of Thomas Dolby and the Thompson Twins? Because that's what Japan reminds me of...

Dave225, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

On the whole, I found them to be more form than substance. "Ghosts", in particular, has to be one of the dullest Top 10 Hits EVER.

That said, I could still enjoy listening to "The Art of Parties" and "Visions of China" - they ROCK! Ish.

Zanny G, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Erik Digibeet asked this question a couple months ago. Anyway, their first two albums are awesome, noisy glam rock.

Sean, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Japan = good. Oh yes.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah, I like Japan. I like the Thomson Twins too. Thomas Dolby I'm less sure about. Why is it bad to sound dated?

Tom, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

If a band was ever in need of a decent re-issues program, and a box- set, it's Japan. For some reason I only have 'Quiet Life' on lovely old vinyl, and it is the biz. Gloopy bass-lines, plenty of warm synth, just the right amount of preening from Sylvian, and GREAT arrangements. And a great atmosphere located somewhere near the mid- point between Berlin and Shanghai. They *should* come across as a horrid post-glam, pre-new romantic mess, but they absolutely work.

Dr. C, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Lush pop...nothing wrong with that, even if it's dated a bit. I still pull out my Exorcising Ghosts compilation every so often to give it the ol' spin-ho.

Sean Carruthers, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Funny how 'dated' these days is generally a term used for something from the '80s or early '90s. I don't think I've ever heard anyone refer to anything from the '60s using the same term. And yet when you hear something from the '60s, you generally know it's from the '60s. Same goes for most records from the '80s, yet music from the later decade is much more likely to be called 'dated'.

Andy K, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I got 'quiet life' and 'tin drum' on vinyl from a charity shop and still had enough change out of a fiver for a pint - a snip!

leigh, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I only know "Ghosts" and I like it. What should I get next?

Ian, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

As the 80s revival keeps growing the same thing will happen as happened to the 60s and 70s and you will hear - "It's incredible how MODERN it sounds".

Tom, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

"Oil On Canvas", the (mostly) live album, is very nice and doesn't sound particularly dated at all.

dan, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I got 'quiet life' and 'tin drum' on vinyl from a charity shop and still had enough change out of a fiver for a pint - a snip!

See - I think I would have preferred two pints...

..And it isn't the fact that they're dated that I don't like (I think not, anyway) - because I still dig the Gang of Four LPs with that jive bassin' (Songs of the Free, Hard) - As I said, I think I would have hated Japan in the 80's also (just my taste...) Sylvian's voice is annoying - almost as bad as Dave Gahan's (which should give you a benchmark for what type of voice I just plain don't like.) Although the work Sylvian has done with Fripp is less annoying - but I think that's due to Fripp's contribution.

..And I kind of like Dolby and the Thompson Twins (in very small doses.)

Dave225, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I see where you're coming from David - I think the datedness is actually kind to Sylvian in that respect, because that time was the only time singers were really able to get away with that kind of poised pseudo-profundity. It goes quite well with the rather precious music. Sylvian's more organic solo work, though, I find pretty irritating for the same reasons you don't like Japan.

Tom, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Ok, now that this discussion is really going, I have to say that Sylvian totally changed his vocal style when the band changed theirs. You've gotta check out his shrill, mincing style on "Adolescent Sex" and "Obscure Alternatives".

Sean, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

i have all the Japan LPs, they're good but tend to lack stand out songs. It's more about the atmosphere really, there is something attractive about the sound if not "catchy"

g, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

sylvian on his own is far better, far mroe complex and interesting.

Queen G, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

To each his own, David Gahan has a great voice it's obvious when the Mode is seen live.

Micheline, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Most people hated them in the 80s, though I was a big fan in highschool back then. And most people hated me for liking them.

I recently discovered their Sean-rock albums from the late 70s, which I regularly play especially the Adolescent Sex song of course.

erik, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

They never stopped being desperate. Very 80's they were in that respect. Poetry was not their strongest side: Their lyrics never interested me - it was the synths. But after 1 album (most definetely quiet life) you knew what they were up to. To answer the question: I don't think I ever listened 1 single album as a whole...

Bas, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

They used to give the five nations teams a good runout in the seventies. But these days they couldn't even beat Wales.

Snotty Moore, Thursday, 28 February 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
ah, come off it... they were good stuff in the 80's precisely when you did have crud like the Thompson Twins and the mighty appalling Big Country doing the toilet circuit rounds. I would recommend 'Oil on Canvas' 'cos they seemed to rock their stuff much better live.

shizuko, Friday, 15 March 2002 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

two years pass...
i have to throw in some more good words for oil on canvas from 1983. the only album i have. i just put it on and it does not sound dated at all. sylvian doesn't overuse his voice, everything is flowing just fine in a post jazz-rock way with some world elements. probably a talking heads influence. karn's great bass is dominating the sound. and there is lots of percussion. maybe they really were better live.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Friday, 15 October 2004 17:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Not sure if it counts, but I still quite enjoy the Rain Tree Crow album.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 15 October 2004 18:00 (sixteen years ago) link

All great.

Atnevon (Atnevon), Friday, 15 October 2004 20:38 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm a big fan of the song 'Night Porter'. Even if it is a shocking steal from Satie, and a piece of 'poised 80s pseudo-profundity'.

There's something odd about Sylvian's lyrics, which is that they consist almost completely of titles from Sartre, Cocteau, Picasso, etc etc. His songs are just knots of references to the (somewhat 'coffee-table') art that he admires. They're super-meta in a way I've rarely seen outside of western pop-besotted Japanese artists. I don't know if this is something conscious -- his tribute to Warhol, post-modernism, or something -- or something which shows his desperate feeling of being 'outside glamour' and remote from a creativity he nevertheless values above everything else.

Sometimes I feel with David Bowie that his whole career has been based on wanting so much to be 'an artist' that you just give it to him for the effort alone, irrespective of the fact that most of his work consists of schizoid impressions of artists he admires. So, if Sylvian was desperate to be Bowie, and Bowie was desperate to be Lou or Iggy or Mick or whoever it was that year, the whole thing starts to get dangerously meta and empty, and a bit sad.

A few circumstances might be mitigating, though:

1. Originality is the gap between your copycat intentions and the actual results. In other words, Bowie copying Lou Reed sounds like Bowie, not Reed, and Sylvian copying Bowie sounds like Sylvian.

2. If 'in the end soul itself is the longing of the soul-less for redemption', maybe being an artist is nothing more than the very strong desire to be an artist.

3. Collage and pastiche and even theft have to be seen as acceptable modes of composition.

4. Bowie and Sylvian never claimed to be 'real'. They're both the sort who'd much rather perfect an impersonation of Andy Warhol than get in touch with their true selves. And when, later in their careers, they both did that, the results were predictably disappointing.

Momus (Momus), Friday, 15 October 2004 21:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Japan are absolutely truly really, really, really great.

And, btw, I love Thomas Dolby and Thompson Twins too. But Japan were even better ;)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 15 October 2004 21:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Btw. Saying that early 80s synthpop sounds dated is soooo 90s ;)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 15 October 2004 21:26 (sixteen years ago) link

5. It's possible that Sylvian's real artistry is in his singing, which is very good and doesn't sound like anyone else at all.

Momus (Momus), Friday, 15 October 2004 21:26 (sixteen years ago) link

True. I found though that when Japan broke up I was very interested in what the rest of the band were going to do, especially Mick Karn. David S was a good frontman (I especially liked the way his voice beame oddly robotic when he tried for low notes - Still Life in Mobile Homes), but it was the rather unique and personal style of the others that really grabbed my ear. I did like the way the whole band advanced in originality and musicianly skill from one album to the next. They were amazingly refined and pretentious, in the best sense.

the music mole (colin s barrow), Friday, 15 October 2004 21:48 (sixteen years ago) link

While I agree with Momus that David Sylvian's singing is indeed unique, he still had imitators. Simon Le Bon, for instance, clearly must have had Sylvian as an important influence on his vocal style.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 16 October 2004 15:31 (sixteen years ago) link

I totally disagree — for all the things about Duran that ripped off Japan—the keyboards, the beat, the fancy-pants stylizations(this was the band who attempted to get Sylvian to produce their first album after all)—stealing Sylvian's vocal sound was not one of them.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 16 October 2004 19:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Then, listen to "The Chauffeur"

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 16 October 2004 20:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, I'd definitely agree that Simon Le Bon tried to steal Sylvian's vocal sound. Unfortunately, because Simon Le Bon has no voice worth mentioning, it was the only steal that came out sounding like a barking warthog.

Still, it wasn't a bad deal, because Nick Rhodes got Sylvian's hair and Barbieri's keyboard settings.

Vaughan, Saturday, 16 October 2004 21:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Just relistened to "The Chauffeur" (itself, an utterly hilarious title, btw -- just in how it suggests high society through the lens of a punter). And ok: I'll concede that he nicks Sylvian's style a bit (which is what you said, Geir), but not his sound (which is what I interpreted it as) -- if only, as Vaughan suggests, because he couldn't.

Part of me would love to hear Sylvian actually sing this, though.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 16 October 2004 21:41 (sixteen years ago) link

Of course he comes nowhere near Sylvia (being a good songwriter, he still managed to come up with 2-3 good albums, although of course not quite as good as Japan)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 16 October 2004 21:41 (sixteen years ago) link

Of course, Sylvia had Mickey...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 16 October 2004 21:48 (sixteen years ago) link

I guess Japan were a bit of an acquired taste - and it really mattered at what point they invaded one's life. Unlike Duran, they were hardly teen material, their songs were more sculptures than music in the conventional sense - so if you came across them too early, there's a likely chance you'd have dismissed them. Luckily, I was just old (and wise ?) enough to find them fascinating, though I remember initially disliking both "Tin Drum" and Sylvian's very personal "Brilliant Trees" - which now, alongside "Gentlemen Take Polaroids", ranks as my favourite record of all time.

Racking my brain, I can't think of another band - apart from Talk Talk, perhaps - that evolved as much musically. Japan were the most original and exotic mainstream group in the 80ies that you could take seriously (we're not talking Classsix Nouveaux!), marrying tradition with the avantgarde and still enjoying some degree of chart success. Most importantly, all four of the core members were school friends and shared the same vision - now compare that with the public and state school visionaries of today - Busted, McFly...

As for Sylvian, though I prefer his solo vocal style, I've always found his dramatic and emotional voice perfectly suited to Japan's haunting atmospherics. Comparing him to non-voices such as Simon Le Bon or Dave Gahan is clearly an insult. As is the erstwhile review of "Ghosts" from Melody Maker, which nonetheless manages to raise a smile: "The sound of the dying Bryan Ferry in a malfunctioning dishwasher." Now that's what I call poignancy.

Michael Ludes (ludesse), Sunday, 17 October 2004 10:49 (sixteen years ago) link

with electro italia, pop-disco, and all this this nostalgia loving why don't we have a Japan knockin' rip-off yet?? Can't we just get a band together who wants to do Quiet Life/Life in Tokyo type Assemblage era. Sorry, I'm gettin' tired of Cure crap, yet VHS or BETA are quite good?

cs appleby (cs appleby), Sunday, 17 October 2004 20:29 (sixteen years ago) link

The "Romo" craze was partly ripping off Japan, I guess. Not that they succeeded artistically...

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 17 October 2004 21:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Orlando weren't too bad...

Ludesse (ludesse), Sunday, 17 October 2004 22:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Orlando rocked, limp wrists aside. And Plastic Fantastic, Viva!, DexDexTer, and Sexus all had great singles.

Atnevon (Atnevon), Sunday, 17 October 2004 23:07 (sixteen years ago) link

The Official End Of It All...

Ludesse (ludesse), Sunday, 17 October 2004 23:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Orlando????

cs appleby (cs appleby), Monday, 18 October 2004 01:37 (sixteen years ago) link

Japan is wicked awesome. I really got into their first 3 or so records a few months ago, and the only time I didn't feel it was when i was sleepy. Don't listen to this music if u are tired unless u feel like taking a nap. Slightly too slow to dance to.

Adam Bruneau (oliver8bit), Monday, 18 October 2004 16:27 (sixteen years ago) link

In the early 70's Japan started as a New York Dolls kinda thing (even stealing the Dolls names) but in the same way as The Clash used influences other than punk to change the way punk sounded, Japan did the same to Glam Rock.

Bowie's Lodger, Low and Heroes were all coming along nicely and early Roxy Music was probably a help.

In a time when popular music had become so stale and boring, leading to the reactionary evolution of the Sex Pistols and the punk rock revolution, Japan stood out as not conforming to any trend, but sticking to doing something different in the midst of punk rock nihilism, in the same way bands like Magazine did. Incredibly brave or foolish at the time I guess.

They were the first ‘Band’ to use Giorgio Moroder as a producer, beating Blondie too it, and you can defiantly can dance to em. Adolescent Sex is as funky as Chic, with a Glam/Punk sneer (with something nice and immature about it), and Life in Tokyo is classy as hell analogue disco genius – I think they grew up a lot in public, and were lucky the music industry allowed them to do so. I don’t think this could happen to an artist now.

From this teenage glam rock funk thing of the first two (maybe three) albums through european disco they evolve into a very original art house machine of fantastic musicians, releasing objects as bizarre as uk chart topping single ‘Ghosts’ (can you imagine something as odd and abstract as that in the charts today??). For a minute I thought they were going to turn into Can, but it sadly wasn’t to happen. I think they dropped all the rock and roll out of the band, and I kinda missed it.

Not everything they have done is good (a fair bit is dodgy), but some of it is sublime, other bits fun, and they are indeed unique. If your looking for a pop band like a pre-cursor to Duran, then Japan are not it. There albums are not easy listening, and take a while to get into, but I think it’s worth it.

Sylvian’s voice may have borrowed heavily from Ferry and Bowie, but even that took on a tone all of his own, and seemed to carry this deep inner sadness, with a very English reserve, the like of which will never be heard again. Sometimes it still makes me cry when I listen to it, even on the solo stuff.

Steve Jansen managed to produce some of the most breathtaking rhythmic structures, and I think is a totally underrated drummer – more importantly my girlfriend recons he may even be better looking than brother David.

I don’t think Duran wanted to be them, only Nick Rhodes and Stephen Tin Tin Duffy from the original lineup did. Duran had a different agenda (pop starts) compared to Japan’s yearning for artistic credibility. Duran actually begged Japan to produce them at one point, but in retrospect I bet Duran are glad they didn’t.

As for the ‘Romo’ scene Orlando were a terrible hi-nrg stage school pet shop boys band wagon jumpers (previously signed to indie label, got all electronic and make-up when it was trendy) and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same thread as Japan (or the pet shop boys for that matter), so stop it.

20JazzFunkGreats.blogspot.com, Monday, 25 October 2004 12:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, this was a very silly question to begin with. Absolutely CLASSIC.

Jay Vee (Manon_70), Monday, 25 October 2004 13:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Ooops, forgot to answer the question.

I was too young to like em at the time and got into them in the late 90's through the solo stuff with Can and Fripp.

Nope, don't like Thomas Dolby or Thompson Twins, even in really small doses.

Yep they sounds dated.

20JazzFunkGreats.blogspot.com, Monday, 25 October 2004 13:41 (sixteen years ago) link

As for the ‘Romo’ scene Orlando were a terrible hi-nrg stage school pet shop boys band wagon jumpers (previously signed to indie label, got all electronic and make-up when it was trendy) and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same thread as Japan (or the pet shop boys for that matter), so stop it.

That's not quite a fair analysis...compare the Reproduction Is Pollution EP to Passive Soul (the former release was put out under the name "Shelley" on Sarah Records and wasn't quite by the same band, but I assume that that's what you're referring to). Baroque sensibilities tie it together. With the possible exception of Just For A Second (which is admittedly quite Hi-NRG, though I'd say that it's far from terrible), I can't detect a discernable lipgloss/mascera aesthetic any more readily with them than I can in a Scott Walker or Divine Comedy album. And JFAS's B-Side (Something To Write Home About) dispells even the idea that that single was a bandwagon-jumper; it could scarcely be farther removed from the "vapid" RoMo aesthetic.

This has done little to argue that Orlando belongs in a Japan thread, but that was never my assertion anyway. I rarely decline a dismissed soapbox.

Atnevon (Atnevon), Monday, 25 October 2004 19:54 (sixteen years ago) link

One of my fave bands evah...Probably the only band I would pay good money to see if they reformed...love the early stuff...Adolescent Sex is so funky...Karn and Jansen are one of the best rhythm sections this country produced...if they were American I reckon Miles Davis would have picked them up...

sonnyboy, Saturday, 2 October 2010 22:50 (ten years ago) link

So sad about Karn's cancer :(

cathedral-sized jellyfish in your mind (Trayce), Saturday, 2 October 2010 23:35 (ten years ago) link

eight years pass...

"sometimes i feel so low" is GOOD

reggie (qualmsley), Monday, 7 January 2019 14:36 (two years ago) link

The sound of the 80s was intermediately dated during the 90s, but has been reinstated during the 00s. The 90s was a very different decade that will remain different forever and have little relevance on music beyond the 90s.

― Tied Up In Geir (Geir Hongro), Friday, October 1, 2010 1:52 AM (eight years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i love this post

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Monday, 7 January 2019 16:42 (two years ago) link

You love that post because its terrible?

I always had this band down as the worst example of New Romantic pretentiousness/preciousness/ponciness but "gentlemen take polaroids" and "tin drum" are excellent albums

Like Eno if he stayed with Roxy Music and a bit of Bowie coke mirror art-funk thrown in for good measure. the musicianship is incredible

"art of parties" is my jam lately

. (Michael B), Monday, 7 January 2019 17:38 (two years ago) link

the Mao chic is a bit much

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 7 January 2019 17:46 (two years ago) link

Doesn't Sylvian look like Sally Jesse Raphael on that cover?

he really does

. (Michael B), Monday, 7 January 2019 18:02 (two years ago) link

“The Art of Parties” is GREAT. One of my favorite songs on the entire Just Can’t Get Enough New Wave Hits of the 80s series.

Mr. Snrub, Monday, 7 January 2019 20:40 (two years ago) link

Love Japan, especially Quiet Life and Tin Drum which are all time favorites.

Recently acquired the 2xLP reissue of the ambient albums Sylvian did with Holger Czukay (which I'd somehow never heard before this reissue) and it's pretty much all I want to listen to right now. You can really hear in this the tracks being laid for the Sylvian solo records that follow

Paul Ponzi, Monday, 7 January 2019 23:06 (two years ago) link

Abbot's Yes related dn name from 8 years ago just made raspberry ginger wine come out of my nose.

MaresNest, Monday, 7 January 2019 23:26 (two years ago) link

Why does Japan have such a horrible reputation? It's primarily outside of England that this is the case. I remember Blender mag foolishly declaring them one of the worst bands of all time in the early 2000s. Look at this thread title: YES, of course they were. The most innovative band in the world for a short while in the early 80s. And they were popular at the time!

When did the backlash happen? Was it just that the band had a very new wavey 1980s aesthetic and was subsequently misjudged and tossed in with the more processed bands of the time?

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 00:02 (two years ago) link

https://i.ibb.co/vZc91pF/viz.jpg

visiting, Tuesday, 8 January 2019 00:20 (two years ago) link

Why does Japan have such a horrible reputation? It's primarily outside of England that this is the case. I remember Blender mag foolishly declaring them one of the worst bands of all time in the early 2000s. Look at this thread title: YES, of course they were. The most innovative band in the world for a short while in the early 80s. And they were popular at the time!

When did the backlash happen? Was it just that the band had a very new wavey 1980s aesthetic and was subsequently misjudged and tossed in with the more processed bands of the time?

― Totally different head. Totally. (Austin)

uh well they had no American reputation at all unless you read Trouser Press or some shit

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 00:40 (two years ago) link

Japan didn't have a particularly great reputation in the UK on their first couple of albums, as it happens. In fact, it took them until Gentlemen Take Polaroids to finally get the recognition they deserved in the UK. They were completely out of step with what was going on at the time in the UK on Adolescent Sex. On the other hand, Quiet Life was a little ahead of its time - it performed poorly on the chart and the title track was only a hit when it was reissued about a year and a half after the album had been out. It sounds like proto-Duran Duran now, but the UK hadn't caught up with what they were doing yet. By the time they'd truly cracked it critically and commercially with 'Ghosts' and Tin Drum, they were finished. To the casual observer in the UK, it must have seemed like they were here today and gone tomorrow, even though they were big in Japan from the beginning. You have to remember, the Quiet Life to Tin Drum period wasn't really that long a period of time, and by the time Japan called it quits, Duran Duran had arrived with a far more accessible (although admittedly not as good - bar Rio) take on what Japan were doing - and they were better looking and more willing to play the fame game.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 01:16 (two years ago) link

It's true that Japan's reputation has only increased with time, though - I still remember seeing the video for 'Visions of China' on MTV in the '90s! There was a lot of "the '80s were crap and the music sucked" talk in the '90s, which I basically put down to that natural thing of there being nothing that seems as uncool as things from the previous decade. That kinda perception got readjusted in the '00s, and then further this decade.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 01:24 (two years ago) link

I was reading pro-Japan articles in the early '90s, in the throes of my Ferry obsession.

Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 01:27 (two years ago) link

Yup. Japan seemed more immune to the '90s backlash against "'80s music" than most. They'd also got back together to do the Rain Tree Crow album in '91, which I'm really glad didn't come out as a Japan album because it's a different thing.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 January 2019 01:33 (two years ago) link

five months pass...

Bumping this thread to post a link to this recent interview with Rob Dean:

http://www.electricityclub.co.uk/missing-in-action-rob-dean/

Dee the (Summer-Hating) Lurker (deethelurker), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 18:26 (two years ago) link

Also, there are two types of people in the world: those who think Japan/DS/JBK/all other associated artists are AWESOME and the people who are so wrong they may as well be the mayor of Wrongville.

Dee the (Summer-Hating) Lurker (deethelurker), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 18:28 (two years ago) link

great interview... thanks for posting it.

visiting, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 21:22 (two years ago) link

seven months pass...

Well, yeah.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 30 January 2020 01:52 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Some nice insights from Steve Jansen here

https://timstwitterlisteningparty.com/pages/replay/feed_683.html

can I run my hands through your lockdown hair (Matt #2), Sunday, 7 March 2021 14:13 (four months ago) link

two weeks pass...

& a listening party for Gentlemen Take Polaroids on May 1st

willem, Monday, 22 March 2021 12:57 (four months ago) link

I went through Steve Jansen's Tin Drum listening party. I thought it was odd that he had no comments, mentions, namechecks or any callouts whatsoever to David Sylvian, while on the other hand both Richard and Mick were frequently mentioned. Hope that was unintentional.

Valentijn, Monday, 22 March 2021 13:57 (four months ago) link

I'm pretty sure that, despite being brothers, they don't get along. Sylvian made some pointed comments about musicians "who should know better" who try to duplicate the sounds of others to create product that I'm pretty sure were aimed at Jansen.

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 22 March 2021 14:07 (four months ago) link

no comments, mentions, namechecks or any callouts whatsoever to David Sylvian

The same phenomenon can be observed in a recent interview that Jansen and Rob Dean gave to promote the Quiet Life reissue. Someone asked about this in the comments section, and the interviewer replied, "The reality is, David wants nothing to do with his past – not only does he refuse any part in promoting Japan, he won’t even promote his past solo career."
So perhaps Jansen is just respecting his brother's desire to completely disassociate himself from Japan.

I Advance Masked (Vast Halo), Monday, 22 March 2021 14:36 (four months ago) link

I guess Sylvian doesn't want to talk about anything at all, since he's not making any new music to discuss.

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 22 March 2021 14:42 (four months ago) link

Sylvian has been on Twitter a bit, recently. More often than not he's recommending other people's music but he did seem to engage with questions briefly ... but held a fairly hard line of, I dunno, disinterest in old music.

djh, Monday, 22 March 2021 21:55 (four months ago) link

So perhaps Jansen is just respecting his brother's desire to completely disassociate himself from Japan.

I like that theory. I thought that they did get along in the past, as Jansen was on Sylvian's Samadhisound label, did Nine Horses & Sylvian was on Jansen's album.

David Sylvian often said that he didn't want to dwell on the past or live in nostalgia. During his solo career he already often disassociated himself from Japan (save for Ghosts). I remember he had announced his last tour in 2007 as a final outing of his past work. The performances were really good though, it didn't seem as if he minded playing them once more.
I recall how I briefly spoke to him in 2003 after a concert, which had surprisingly featured Japan's 'The Other Side Of Life'. I thanked him for playing that song and he smiled very proudly in return. I then asked him if the recent reissues of his albums were his choice or the studio, he said it was partly the studio but also partly him, I said that I kinda minded that some remixes closed the first disc of Gone To Earth which disrupted the album flow for me, he said it was the only reissue he also wasn't sure of.

Valentijn, Tuesday, 23 March 2021 07:53 (four months ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99s9hTIELCo

Maresn3st, Monday, 5 April 2021 16:45 (three months ago) link

I recall how I briefly spoke to him in 2003 after a concert,

this is an amazing recollection. i know he's a real person, but i guess i've always just imagined david sylvian to be this opaque aura of an existence. i know he's able to speak in a normal conversational voice, but i can't be anything other than intimidated when i try to imagine what that must have been like. he's like a greek god or something to me by this point.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Monday, 5 April 2021 18:24 (three months ago) link

I had exactly the same reaction.

Cocteau Twinks (jed_), Monday, 5 April 2021 22:30 (three months ago) link

jansen played extensively on all of sylvian's solo work up until dead bees on a cake, played live with him (including on sylvian's final tour in 2007), was part of nine horses with him, and played on the title track on died in the wool which was released in 2011 so if they fell out or anything it must have been relatively recent

have been getting really into sylvian lately, somehow his work never clicked for me last time i'd tried listening to it ages ago but this time it's all incredible to me

ufo, Monday, 5 April 2021 23:37 (three months ago) link

The Rain Tree Crow project fell apart when Sylvian had a physical altercation with Jansen, it's said. They're a little more discreet about this sort of thing than the Gallaghers or Davies brothers, though, so who knows.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:14 (three months ago) link

I interviewed him once, years ago. I was worried it was a mess, but just checked it out and it's ok. He's a smart, thoughtful guy.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:39 (three months ago) link

xp i never realised things got that bad between them, huh. i guess the most likely story then is that they've fallen out and in over the years - it was 9 years between rain tree crow and their next time working together on dead bees on a cake.

the narrative with tin drum & gentlemen take polaroids has always been that sylvian seized creative control which lead to the band's break-up so i'm sure at the very least jansen wanted to highlight what he & the others brought to the table

ufo, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:50 (three months ago) link

http://www.stevejansen.com/news/an_in-depth_interview_with_steve_jansen.html

here's a interview with jansen from sometime in the last few years which is quite a good read. he says his view of those japan albums was that what was good about them was the musicianship of the whole band and the arrangements, which everyone was involved in, with the songwriting itself not being anything special, so he regrets not pushing back against sylvian's narrative of being the main creative force on those albums at the time.

he seems to imply he hasn't really been interested in collaborating with sylvian since sylvian's 2007 tour out of a desire to focus on his own work instead of spending a lot of time backing sylvian (though it's not like sylvian has been doing that much more recently either). he talks fondly of nine horses as a project and seems disappointed they weren't able to do more together as more equal partners though, and also regrets that they ended up doing a sylvian solo tour after the album instead of a nine horses tour. the most he really gets into any tensions with sylvian is frustrations about his label. he talks a lot about his relationships with the other members of japan too.

ufo, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 01:38 (three months ago) link

i know he's able to speak in a normal conversational voice

Maybe not. His voice completely mesmerized me. I remember how I first thanked him for the concert & 'The Other Side Of Life', then asked for an autograph, then meant to ask him about those reissues but there were more people waiting and they asked for autographs before I could ask. I still managed to say that I had a question for him. While he was signing, he said to me "You can ask your question." and the way he said that was like a magic spell. Soft, calm, soothing and caressing but also strong and deep. Guy's a wizard.

His speaking voice was like he's also heard on his later 'Uncommon Deities' record.

Valentijn, Tuesday, 6 April 2021 06:38 (three months ago) link

YOU MAY ASK YOUR QUESTION, PUPIL

O_O

unreal.

Totally different head. Totally. (Austin), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 16:16 (three months ago) link

That cleaned up/edited TOTP performance from 1982 is amazing, thanks for sharing Maresn3st!

willem, Wednesday, 7 April 2021 09:37 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ07LpCp3jc

Maresn3st, Friday, 30 April 2021 18:50 (two months ago) link

Farrah Fawcett was hot for a while.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 30 April 2021 18:52 (two months ago) link

I always try to go for early 80s Sylvian when my hair gets longish

brimstead, Friday, 30 April 2021 19:01 (two months ago) link

hair idol <3

https://jansenphotographyblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/1081.jpg

brimstead, Friday, 30 April 2021 19:02 (two months ago) link

I thought he'd have a picture of Mao in his kitchen.

Halfway there but for you, Friday, 30 April 2021 19:05 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_370OVHy80

Maresn3st, Saturday, 15 May 2021 21:56 (two months ago) link

See what I mean?

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 16 May 2021 00:51 (two months ago) link

so handsome <3

you mean like the tin drum album cover? was he actually a Maoist?!?

brimstead, Tuesday, 18 May 2021 02:26 (two months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Items from Mick Karn's personal memorabilia collection currently on eBay, for those who may be interested:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/joseph4jansenphoto/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

I gave it my all and my all wasn't enough (Matt #2), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 13:15 (one month ago) link


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