Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reasons why the saxophone is not the work of the devil No 2

Japan - Methods of Dance

"Then out of the blue / you're here by me"

Japan always seemed so incredibly serious about their music; even in their pre-fame glam rock poseur phase they seemed so earnest to get it right (even if everyone else thought they got it terribly wrong).  Their music is so expertly crafted it is often difficult to find anything wrong with it, unless you enjoy nit-picking.  It is not surprising therefore that if anyone can, Japan can do great things with the saxophone.

1980's Methods of Dance from the album 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' is one of the finest moments in Pop, rock, whatever.  It starts with the lonely wail of the saxophone over low rumbling synths, joined effortlessly by delicate 'piano' and David Sylvian's moody and obscure singing.  I think there is a glockenspiel in there somewhere.  It is the chorus which grazes magnificence however, the music falls only to rise on raptures of synth, voice and sax, all merging into each other, the woman's voice lending it an air of exoticism which Japan were to stamp all over this, and successive album, 'Tin Drum.'  The percussion sounds like the beat of angels' wings.  But it does not stop there, the sax solo in the middle bit (wow I am so un-technical when it comes to songs) manages to show how this much maligned instrument can be graceful without overwhelming, before we are treated to another rendition of the chorus to fade.  Whilst Japan's music continues to beguile and astonish with its apparent simplicity, Methods of Dance cannot be matched for sheer atmosphere and troubling sense of melancholy.

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