Throughout the Frosty Night

‘dawn is waking’

The first time this listener was introduced to the playing of Clive Bell was as part of Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen’s short-lived dalliance with overt pop for their 1987 album as The Dolphin Brothers – Catch the Fall. Here Bell adds such exotic sounds as those of the khene and Thai flute to the title track and the seductive ‘Love That You Need’. These traditional wind instruments bring a sense of unspecified Eastern location to the songs, their authentic sounds being reminiscent of those that Barbieri and David Sylvian had worked so meticulously to muster from their analogue synthesisers for Japan’s China-influenced pinnacle, Tin Drum.

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Red Earth (as summertime ends)

‘A completely different approach and feel’

It seems that there were certain aspects of being in a band that David Sylvian felt liberated from after Japan split up, but there were others that he missed almost immediately when setting out as a solo artist.

In 1986, just after the release of his second solo album Gone to Earth, he explained that his desire for musicians from a jazz background to perform on his records ‘came out of the frustration of working within a band like Japan which was studio-bound. Nothing was improvised except in rehearsals when you are putting the track together. Going into the studio everything was well prepared and you really knew what you were doing, and it was only a matter of sound you were working with. So, when Japan split up I wanted to get into something that had a bit more life to it, a bit more spontaneity to it.’

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