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Japan (Rock): Gentlemen Take Polaroids

Album Notes

Japan: David Sylvian (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Rob Dean (guitar); Richard Barbieri (keyboards); Mick Karn (saxophone, bass); Steve Jansen (drums).

Engineers include: Nigel Walker, Colin Fairley, Steve Prestage.

Recorded at Air Studios and The Townhouse Studios, London, England.

All tracks have been digitally remastered.

Japan's fourth album is a study in serious mood development, made even more so with the inclusion of the instrumental B-side, "The Experience of Swimming." Japan's subtle mixture of spidery guitars, lush saxophones, and elastic bass is fleshed out with David's Sylvian's effortless vocals and some truly classy synthesizer work that, somehow, doesn't seem to have dated. Mick Karn pulls double duty with the sax and bass and, as usual, his work is what grounds the band--for proof, see "My New Career" or "Taking Islands in Africa."

Among the standout tracks, "Burning Bridges" borrows more than a few notions from the collaborations between David Bowie and Brian Eno, but nevertheless manages to present a beautiful soundscape that is fresh and dynamic. With a phrase from one song becoming the title of another, Sylvian's lyrics are more oblique than usual. These interrelations don't seem to lead anywhere, but that is hardly the point--much of the time, he seems more interested in how the words sound than what they say. The record also includes a wonderfully infectious cover of the Marvin Gaye classic, "Ain't That Peculiar." This is the modern-rock version of smoky, late-night jazz.


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