Review: Still Life in Polaroids (A Tribute to the works of Japan and Beyond)

In 1974 in Catford, South London Dave Sylvian, Mick Karn, and Steve Jansen formed a GlamProg band which would have some commercial success. The true impact was the influence they would have on future generations of complex and emotive artists. Along with fellow pioneers like The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, Roxy Music, they challenged the boundaries of the time and continues to impact alternative voices today.

Coitus Interruptus Productions well known for creating tribute albums to highlight the best in new Darkscene music has released this latest offering with the assistance of Yvette Winkler of Vaselyne. Assembling a great production team of Jasyn Bangert (Mastering) Greg Rolfes (Artwork) the team at CI has compiled an amazing list of talent to pay homage to one of the most underrated bands of the past 50 years.

Still Life in Polaroids (A Tribute to the works of Japan and Beyond) | Coitus Interruptus Productions (bandcamp.com)

.Ashes of Youth – His Box 04:16
2.Attasalina – Blackwater 04:55
3.Blackcarburning – The Other Side of Life 04:35
4.Brian Hodges & Pieter Nooten (feat. Marselle Hodges) – Let The Happiness In 05:45
5.CODENAME: LOLA – Canton 05:25
6.C Z A R I N A – Halloween 04:38
7.David Scott Keller – God Man 03:15
8.Dogtablet – Despair (Ft Marselle Hodges) 04:33
9.Dreamscape Invocation – World Citizen (I Won’t Be Disappointed) 06:47
10.G.W . Childs IV – Gentlemen Take Polaroids 04:39
11.Krate – Oil On Canvas 03:41
12.Melodywhore – Ghosts 04:25
13.Michael Alan Giller – Closer Than ‘I’ 05:41
14.Pedro Code & Herr G – Methods Of Dance 05:26
15.Pete Burns (Kill Shelter) – Waterfront 03:15
16.Stefano Panunzi & Nicola Lori (feat. Yvette Winkler) – Damage 03:32
17.Tenderlash – Life In Tokyo 04:07
18.Tearing The Blackbox (feat Yvette Winkler) – Back In The Beginning 06:05
19.The Blue Hour – Nightporter 05:44
20.The Essence – Quiet Life 04:26
21.Tom Berger (Johnny Tupolev) – Visions of China 04:03
22.Unwoman – Darkest Dreaming 04:03
23.Vaselyne – Riverman 05:19
24.White Rose Transmission – Transmission 03:00

24 tracks on multiple labels all with a passion for Japan. With so many great takes I won’t be able to cover each one. I will try and give some quick impressions on as many as I can. This whole release is brimming over with friends and favorites. If you know and love Japan, this is a wonderful way to rediscover songs you love. if you don’t know them, find some of your favorite covers, then look up the originals. You will not be disappointed.

Brian Hodges & Pieter Nooten (feat. Marselle Hodges)Let The Happiness In – originally a Mick Carns solo album track from “Dreams Of Reason Produce Monsters“. Marselle has one of those voices you can get lost in, gentle and wispy. Holding the power to erode stones over time. The Seattle artists fully embrace the streaking grey beauty of Sylvian’s original delivery. This isn’t a cover, it is a love letter.

Music | The Blue Hour (bandcamp.com)

Dogtablet Ft Marselle HodgesDespair – Industrial legend Martin King also adds Marselle on vocals on this haunting cover that adds a brighter more resonant piano. The percussion is a gentle heartbeat underneath the streets of Paris in a smokey artist cafe. I love the addition of phosphorous glow to the existential dread. I will say I miss the amazing sax solo from the original, but I want sax solos in every song.

Black Space Dust & Memories | Dogtablet (bandcamp.com)

G.W. Childs IVGentlemen Take Polaroids – My dear friend G.W. covering probably my all time favorite Japan track. A single that hit number 60 in the Uk charts in 1980. The original really showed the Brian Eno influence with it’s funky sensuality. G.W. keeps the funk, punches the vocals forward with Pet Shop Boys sass and spices up the dance beats. This is a perfect cover for roller disco lovers spinning hands locked gazing into each others eyes.

You Don’t Know | G.W. Childs IV (bandcamp.com)

melodywhoreGhosts – Steller cover for Texas electronica songsmith and remix master. Released in 1981 and probably their best-known hit, this dreamy ballad where Sylvian really unburdens his soul. James opens with these giant pillar synths and really captures the despair of the original. Wonderful harp plucking effect to take place of the marimba. This was a true exercise in method acting, it really gets in the head space of Sylvian’s composition.

Love Will Tear Us Apart | melodywhore & The Joker Project | melodywhore (bandcamp.com)

Pedro Code & Herr GMethods Of Dance – Two amazing talents from Portugal team up to cover another track from “Gentlemen Take Polaroids”. This song features my favorite drum performance from Steve Jansen. A bold change to reimagine it as an electronic dark dance floor driver. Pedro’s voice is always exquisite and goes towards the top of the register in parts. They really change the focus of the track and make it their own.

Music | IAMTHESHADOW (bandcamp.com)

Pete Burns (Kill Shelter)Waterfront – I believe this track was a David Sylvian solo song. Beautiful Blue collar dockworker ballad. Sylvian really channeled his gruffer edge for this. Pete, who I know is an enormous Japan fan piles on a further gently plucked blues tone on the guitar and a fading town anguished delivery on vocals. I was almost scared to hear this one because the original is so amazing, but of course Pete absolutely crushed it.

The Sex Tape Sessions EP | Kill Shelter & Death Loves Veronica | Kill Shelter (bandcamp.com)

TenderlashLife In Tokyo – 1979 release that definitely had a disco glam feel that became a hit on the singles chart in 1982. The NC darkwave band adds in a beautiful New Order synth swell to accompany Candy’s beautiful wispy croon. I really like the megaphone voiceover on the breakdown. They prove this could have been just as big a hit in the 90s alt rock riot girl scene.

Hold Still | Tenderlash (bandcamp.com)

Tearing The Blackbox (feat Yvette Winkler)Back In The Beginning – A team up from Netherlands, this track really hit me with the jazz walking Mick Karn basslines I’ve been waiting for. It’s surreal and engaging with a wicked guitar solo backed by Yvette’s swelling chant. A perfect homage to the precise chaos that is Japan.

Now | Tearing The BlackBox (bandcamp.com)

UnwomanDarkest Dreaming – Another Dave Sylvian solo album track. This one is a gentle introspective stargazing dream. Erica of Unwoman, who always brings an original spin and quality to their covers stretches out the time as the bow slides across strings. Powerful organic tendrils of sound paint a road for their soulful vibrato and layered nuance. I fell into this track like a baby in arms.

Music | Unwoman (bandcamp.com)

VaselyneRiverman – This was a Sylvian + Robert Fripp team up. One of those epically weird and expansive songs with world beat psychedelic flavor. Covered by the Dutch band including Yvette who helped put the whole project together. I absolutely loved this rendition with all the organic movement and Yvette’s warm whiskey vocals. The guitar leads crackle with life and plunge in and out of the water. Definitely a stand out track on a record full of them.

Under Your Skin | Vaselyne (bandcamp.com)

Coitus Interruptus Productions from Seattle has another home run here. I love the way they are creating a bridge between the past and future of this scene. Highly recommend checking some of their other tribute albums to Chameleons, Killing Joke, Coil, Psychedelic Furs, and more. I didn’t get to touch on every band here, but they are all worth checking out. Artwork by Greg Rolfes. Mastering by Jason Bangert

Katy’s “End of Days” Playlist (Pt. 2)

Here’s my latest update on life. Like many people, this has been a rough patch. A lot of personal inventory has been had along with tough life evaluations, revelations, and epiphanies. It sucks. Luckily, I have had one thing in my life since I was a little kid that always helped me through the hard times. That thing is music. During this time, a lot of things have shut down. However, music keeps going and keeps getting better by the day.

When I was scrolling through Bandcamp today, I needed some new tunes to carry me through this week and the many moods it would surface. Some of this is brand new, some of it came out this month, some of it is just a preview of what’s to come. All of it’s great.

Nick Griffith

7 AM

Wombarra, Australia

https://nickgriffithmusic.bandcamp.com/album/7am

Nick Griffith_4_1_Review

This indie-rock, electro-pop, synth album is the definition of glee. The songs are fun with lots of quirky samples that seem to be centralized around generally peppy things. Griffith’s voice has a soothing sound to it. Not to say it’s angelic, but something about it feels familiar and refreshing. The music is incredible. It’s fast and in-your-face synth-pop with synthesized drums that incorporates romantic feels at points with unexpected instrumentation. Every track on this album had its own thing that made it stand out. 

Favorite Track: Riding On My Bike

Release Date: March 20, 2020

CHROMB!

Le livre des Merveilles

Lyon, France

https://chromb.bandcamp.com/album/le-livre-des-merveilles

Le livre des merveilles_4-1 Review

‘Le livre des Merveilles’ is absolutely insane. It’s every ounce of what you’d imagine a post-jazz, post-rock, avant-garde, power-pop album would be. You never know what to expect. Each track creates an entirely new landscape and mental image. Some tracks, like “Le livre des Merveilles” are shorter and have a poppier feel, almost like Stereolab.  While other tracks like “Le fleuve Brison” start a little more cosmic feeling and take their time building into hugeness. The album maintains is unpredictability throughout splashing in longer experimental interludes featuring instrumentation from synths to strings within the tracks. Also, there are a ton incredible vocal harmonies.

Favorite Track: Le fleuve Brison

Release Date: March 27, 2020

Blankenberge

More

Saint Petersburg, Russia

https://blankenberge.bandcamp.com/album/more

Blankenberge

If you’re in dire need of walls of sound with pop-rock vibes underneath, this is the album for you. Blankenberge has fused together shoegaze, dream-pop, and post-rock together in a way that is astonishing. The instrumentation is saturated in a way that hits you in big emotional waves. One of the guitars sounds super wet and surfy, while the other creates ambiance and space. The songs are still driving and sometimes really upbeat, borderline optimistic-sounding, without being overtly happy. The vocals are super saturated and act as more of an instrument than lyrics to sing along with. There are huge post-rock builds and unexpected rhythmic changes throughout that make each song increasingly interesting. Altogether, it’s really beautiful music that makes ya feel good.

Favorite track: Look Around

Release Date: April 10, 2020

ODDLY

Loaded EP

Kyoto, Japan

https://oddlyband.bandcamp.com/album/loaded-ep

Oddly

“ODDLY is a 3 piece rock band with no bassist. Why we don’t need bass? Cuz we’re louder than that.” I took that from their Bandcamp about section because I thought it was perfect. It perfectly describes who they are and kind of how they sound,. Don’t let their promise of loudness dissuade you. I mean, it’s pretty loud, but it’s intricate and fun with little happy vibes overall. There’s a classic, early 90’s alternative punk vibe to it with apathetic vocals riddled with angst. I love the call-and-response in songs like their featured track, “Loaded”. From beginning to end, this EP is everything it promised to be with its title.

Favorite Track: Loaded

Release Date: March 27, 2020

SPC ECO

4EP April EP

UK

https://spceco.bandcamp.com/album/4-ep-april-ep

SPCECO

SPC ECO consists of former Curve member Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin. They’ve been doing this project actively since 2007 and have been putting out shorter EP’s the last few months. This EP is very fun and poppy with some really chill electronic songs and some really energetic songs. The dreaminess of this album is almost immeasurable. When you close your eyes and listen to tracks like, “Don’t Mind Me,” the mental scenery is so bright and positive. Other tracks, like my personal favorite, “Who We Are” have a more melancholy vibe to them with experimental textures and synth. This is an alum that you can get hypnotized by and utilize when you’re doing extended outside tasks like walking around, gardening, or driving.

Favorite Track: Who We Are

Release Date: April 1. 2020

Spring Reverb

It’s a Feeling She Don’t Believe In

Portland, Oregon

https://springreverb.bandcamp.com/album/its-a-feeling-she-dont-believe-in

SpringReverb

Okay, so this isn’t an album or an EP, it’s just a single. However, I’ve been obsessed, now listening to this track a dozen times. I can’t tell you what exactly I love about it so much. Is it the excessive use of spring reverb or that classic tone on the organ. I love the fact that it sounds like you’re listening to the track on a warped piece of vinyl. Something about it is so positive at the same time as being so haunting. It has every ounce of a happy day song when you’re driving down the street, wind in your hair, styling some huge fashionable sunglasses while still being ever so slightly unnerving. There’s nothing minor or negative about this jangle-pop track, which is something really great to be able to listen to and really enjoy right now. I can’t wait to hear more from this band.

Only Track: It’s A Felling She Don’t Believe In

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Once again, I hope you all enjoyed this installment of “Katy’s ‘End of Days’ Playlist”. I enjoyed making it. There’s a ton of amazing music coming out regardless of the world situation that can give us all a little comfort right now. Whether you’re into dark, heavy stuff or prefer things to be a little lighter right now, there’s something out there for you to enjoy. You just have to dig a little. Hopefully, these lists help steer you in the right direction.

Things are tough, but you better believe we’re tougher than this. Stay safe and healthy if you’re able to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Reach out to your friends and family and find something to occupy your mind so things don’t feel as dark. I’ve chosen to deep dive into Bandcamp and have found it to be a sanity-saving time consumer.

You are cared about even if it’s by someone or a group of people you’ve never met. We care about you. All of you. We want to help make this time bearable for people who aren’t used to being home all the time and severely want everyone to get through this with as little damage as possible, but we’re also here if you just need to talk to someone. Reach out. We love you all.