ROCK HISTORY: JAPAN – QUIET LIFE (1979)

Japan1979

English band Japan never hid their influences, with The New York Dolls, Roxy Music, David Bowie and The Velvet Underground, readily apparent from their image and music. Consisting of David Sylvian (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Barbieri (synths, keyboards), Mick Karn (bass, sax, flute, backing vocals), Steve Jansen (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Rob Dean (guitar), the band would in turn inspire many of the 80s New Romantics (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc) though the band themselves swore off that label.

Quiet Life, their 3rd LP, is significant as it signalled a shift in style as Japan eschewed the glam-rock of their first two LPs in favour of a more experimental synth-based approach, which bordered on art rock. This allowed the creativity of Karn and Barbieri to shine through in their instrumental work and Sylvian began to step of the shadow of his #1 vocal inspiration, Bryan Ferry. Guitars were no longer used to provide chordal accompaniment and where utilised would be more atmospheric in nature. This change in direction probably led to guitarist Dean leaving, subsequent to the album’s release.

Songs like the dance-rocking title track, the mutant groovy “In Vogue” and the Roxy-channeling “Halloween” provided the album highlights, whilst the sublime cover of the Velvets’ “All Tomorrow’s Parties” would make for a particularly memorable single.

As a quartet, Japan would go on to release the successful Gentlemen Take Polaroids and Tin Drum albums before splitting up in 1982 to explore even more progressive rock territories individually.

… still there’s more… 

TADA’S DO-IT-ALL HOUSE: DISCONCERTO

Directed by Omori Tatsushi. 
Starring  Eita, Matsuda Ryuhei, Maki Yoko, Masatoshi Nagase, Kora Kengo, Maro Akaji, Omori Nao, Iwasaki Miku.

Caught this excellent Japanese movie’s world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Brilliant story telling in a matter of fact style. The plot itself started out slowly enough but once the key factors were introduced, the movie felt like an emotional roller-coaster in slo-mo. Actually, the 2nd movie of a trilogy, Disconcerto revolves around the antics of odd couple Tada (Eita) and Gyoten (Ryuhei) as they try to come to terms with their past and deal with the pressing issues of the present.

Director Tatsushi keeps the sophisticated narrative simple whilst revealing details about the lead characters bit by bit. There is an inherent sadness in both leads that impacts their actions. Significantly, their individual plans are interrupted by little children, a lesbian couple, a cult, protesting old folks and the Yakuza! Despite all that, the duo still manage to plough through life in their inimitable manner.

But ultimately, it is the relationship between Tada and Gyoten that anchors the movie well – in this respect, one can look forward to the next installment of Tada’s Do-it-all House with anticipation.

PoPTV – RANKIN TAXI

D.M.N.N.

No, I have no idea what the lyrics are about – though I guess it’s about the recent nuclear disaster in Japan. But what caught the ear was the fact that Rankin Taxi is a Japanese toaster! Haha yeah. Authentic reggae rhythms underpin this amazing song and even though I don’t understand a word of Japanese I really dug the way Rankin Taxi delivers the phrases. The video is bizarre but funny! Very very cool…