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Japan (Rock): Oil on Canvas

Album Notes

Japan: Mick Karn (vocals, clarinet, saxophone, bass); David Sylvian (vocals, keyboards); Masami Tsuchiya (guitar, keyboards); Richard Barbieri (keyboards); Steve Jansen (drums, marimba).

Recorded at The Hammersmith Odeon, London in November, 1982.

This was Japan's last album, a live set that serves as an overview of their work as a group. It also includes performances of songs that were not featured on the group's studio albums.

In retrospect, it's an ironic twist of fate that Japan was just blossoming into its most artistically fruitful period while on the verge of breaking up. When this 1982 concert was recorded at London's Hammersmith Odeon, Japan was just around the corner from disintegration. OIL ON CANVAS makes a hell of a swan song.

The band had come a long way from it's glam-rock beginnings, evolving into a subtle, complex unit that combined post-punk funk, electronics, Asian imagery and an unbridled experimental streak for some of the early-'80s most memorable recordings. Incredibly, this live album reveals that the complicated textures and fragile dynamics of Japan's studio work transferred easily to the stage. David Sylvian's velvety baritone, Mick Karn's jazzy fretless bass, and Richard Barbieri's exotic, atmospheric synthesizers make these tunes from the band's final phase as rewarding as they are inscrutable.


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