Monday, July 14, 2008

Catch the fall - the Dolphin Brothers

Having become worryingly addicted to David Sylvian in the interim of writing my last blog post (but more about that later) I found this little gem of an 80s album (1987 to be precise) lurking on itunes accessible through one of those handy little collections that itunes cunningly puts together to tempt you to buy more stuff having, as it does, a tenuous connection to some loved performer (in this case Japan).  In this case the connection is not so tenuous as the Dolphin Brothers are bona fide former members of Japan, Steve Jansen (brother of David Sylvian, clatterer of drums) and Richard Barbieri (wielder of synth) sounding here very much like Japan 'gone commercial', Jansen even sings spookily like his big brother.  In many ways this album is atrocious, it has that forgettable late 80s production sheen, world music pretensions, too many instruments, obligatory female backing singers but with enough of a smattering of the stuff that made Japan so brilliant, lurking there just beneath the surface... but lacking (really) whatever made them so compelling (also see John Foxx's and the Associates' work around this time which is enough to knock any hero from their pedestal).  However there is something endearing about how from the wreckage of a band implosion comes offerings that are not quite but almost...  so 'Catch the Fall' floats into consciousness pleasantly enough, 'Shining' wears its POP pretensions all over its sugary saturated sleeves... theres some wonky guitar wriggling through 'Second Sight' ... then I realise that Jansen and Barbieri are standing by some trees, ahem in a very similar (arty) manner to Sylvian on 'Brilliant Trees' a bit too convenient and the pink filter looks naff... well you get the idea I suppose, the guitars get a little bit more bombastic on 'Real Life real answers' but this is a mostly inoffensive affair.  'Pushing the River' ends on a positive if melancholic note, despite its lightweight sound at strange variance to the attempt at portentiousness it has one of those chord changes that weaves it's magic and invites surrender... one of those magical moments that exists in the space between voice, chord, instrument when there's a pause, Steven Jansen sings "I'd die for you" and the music swells to meet him as the lump rises in the throat... and you realise that even trifling obscure 80s music can have that impact and pretentiousness evaporates.

No comments: