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.
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.
Dogtablet Ft Marselle Hodges– Despair – 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.
G.W. Childs IV – Gentlemen 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.
melodywhore – Ghosts – 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.
Pedro Code & Herr G – Methods 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.
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.
Tenderlash – Life 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.
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.
Unwoman – Darkest 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.
Vaselyne – Riverman – 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.
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