Visions of China

‘playing with images’

‘Credit where credit’s due. Yuka brought the first Chinese records home which filled my head with unknown sounds, and it was only a matter of weeks before they were circulated around the band and we were all hooked,’ writes Mick Karn in his book Japan & Self Existence of then girlfriend, Yuka Fujii. ‘I couldn’t get enough of them. It was always exciting to get home and listen to what I’d bought on the strength of the sleeve design alone. The best were the instrumental tracks, for it was the unusual instrumentation that left us wondering at how the absence of guitars, drum kit, synthesisers and anything else familiar, somehow still produced commercially driven music.

‘The direction that had been missing for the next album was now beginning to take shape. Without consciously copying or mimicking anything we heard, but simply by exploring our own western, electronic instruments to interpret and blend the newly found influences into our writing. We listened to nothing else.’

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Ghosts

‘adventurous and strange’

‘New means change the method; new methods change the experience, and new experiences change man. Whenever we hear sounds we are changed: we are no longer the same after hearing certain sounds, and this is the more the case when we hear organised sounds, sounds organised by another human being: music.’ So said the ground-breaking composer of electronic music, Karlheinz Stockhausen, during a lecture given in London in 1971.

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Sons of Pioneers

Collaboration in a band context

Recently I returned to Tin Drum after a long break. I’m not sure why I neglected it, maybe because David Sylvian has often spoken of his work implying that ‘Ghosts’ was the one Japan song truly reflective of his musical journey. Maybe because the literature and websites tend to differentiate between Japan and the solo period as different eras, and lately I’d given much more of my attention to the latter.

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