Forbidden Colours

‘sonically it was incredible’

When it came to making casting decisions for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, there was no doubt that Nagisa Ōshima took an unconventional approach. ‘Unlike most directors, I find it frustrating to have to cast only actors,’ he later declared. ‘I’m always on the look out for people from a different field…I simply don’t like established methods. There are six billion people on this planet, but I’m supposed to choose someone after looking through just twenty or thirty actors’ portraits. I’ve felt the same way since the beginning of my film career. And if I do things differently, perhaps I can stretch the horizons of my work. It’s something I think about every time I make a film.’

First there was the decision to invite Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano to play the role of tough military officer at the prisoner of war camp in Indonesia, Sergeant Gengo Hara. Whilst Kitano would go on to establish himself as both movie actor and eminent director, to this point he was well known in Japan as a comedian. His public image could hardly have been further removed from the enforcer he was asked to portray. ‘I had a gut feeling that he had natural acting ability,’ said Ōshima, ‘having worked with him in the past on several TV variety shows. In fact, I think it was during one of those shows that I asked him if he fancied acting in a film. He said straight away that he was a bit shy about it…I urged him to do it and gave him two pieces of advice. The first was not to settle for a minor role. I told him to go for a big part right from the start. The second was not to appear in a comedy, simply because he was already well known as a comedian.’

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Cherry Blossoms Fall – The Cicada’s Song

‘universal and timeless themes’

Upon This Fleeting Dream featuring David Sylvian and Kazuko Hohki is the fourth album from Twinkle³, the trio of Clive Bell, David Ross and Richard Scott. Their debut, Let’s Make a Solar System, was released back in 2009. ‘Twinkle³ started as a studio-based project for Richard and myself,’ David Ross told me. ‘At that time Richard was already immersed in electronic music and had a recording studio, while I was just finding ways in.

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If I Leave No Trace – Empty Handed

‘visceral and compelling’

Early on the Twinkle³ album featuring David Sylvian and Kazuko Hohki, Upon This Fleeting Dream, a torrent of fizzing electronic sound tears from one speaker to another, followed by what seems to be the crackle of a spark leaping between contacts. Synthetic beeps and the fragments of a beat escape from a swirling mix. Soaking in the sounds that accompany Sylvian and Hohki’s readings of ancient Japanese poetry, it’s evident there is something distinctive happening in how synthesisers are deployed.

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Sunlight Seen Through Towering Trees

‘harmony between you and your environment’

A double album comprising a disc of vocal tracks accompanied by another of instrumental cuts was certainly an unusual proposition for a mid-’80s release from a pop artist with chart potential. Early in the genesis of the follow-up album to Brilliant Trees, Sylvian had toyed with releasing the first three vocal tracks he had written backed with ‘Steel Cathedrals’, or perhaps as part of a package with Words with the Shaman. Ultimately those instrumentals would see standalone release in video and EP form respectively, but when Gone to Earth eventually reached us it was in anything but a conventional format.

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The Good Son – She is Not

‘Singular, unique’

It was on 18 February 2003 that Derek Bailey entered the Moat recording studios in London’s North Kensington to record a session of solo acoustic and electric guitar at the invitation of David Sylvian. ‘I spoke to him for about fifteen minutes on the phone after which he was onboard,’ remembered Sylvian. ‘I told him I wanted to be challenged as a vocalist and he said, “that I can do for you”.’ (2011)

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