Rain Tree Crow

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Rain Tree Crow
Studio album by Rain Tree Crow (Japan)
Released 20 April 1991
Recorded September 1989-April 1990, Miravel Studios, Le Val, France - Condulmer Studio Zerman di Mogliano, Italy - Marcus Studios, London - Air Studios, London - The Wool Hall, Bath - Ropewalk Studio, Dublin - Mega Studios, Paris - Eel Pie Studios, London.
Genre Art rock, experimental rock
Length 45:34
Label Virgin
Producer Rain Tree Crow
Rain Tree Crow (Japan) chronology
Oil on Canvas
Rain Tree Crow
David Sylvian chronology
Rain Tree Crow
Ember Glance: The Permanence of Memory
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars link

Rain Tree Crow was the name used by the English band Japan (excluding Rob Dean, who had departed prior to Japan's initial breakup) when they briefly reformed for this one-off project, which would be their final album. It was the first time all four members of the band, David Sylvian, Steve Jansen, Mick Karn and Richard Barbieri, collaborated on a project since the compilation of the 1983 live album Oil on Canvas.

Recorded in 1989-1990 and released in April 1991, the majority of the material on their eponymous album was written as a result of group improvisations (aside from 'Blackwater' and 'Every Colour You Are'). There were no pre-rehearsals and the music that emerged was a hybrid of atmospheric ambient ballads in the style of lead singer David Sylvian's contemporaneous albums and more dissonant experimental styles that sometimes echoed the work of Tom Waits and King Crimson.

The name Rain Tree Crow was chosen to mark a break from Japan's past with the intention of creating a new long-term project. As the music turned out to be less commercial than originally envisioned all members of the band aside from Sylvian became amenable to the idea of retaining the Japan moniker in order to gain maximum exposure.[1]

However, Sylvian levered increasing artistic and production control over the project to the point where the recording developed from a band effort into what was essentially another Sylvian solo project, leaving the other members as mere sessioners for the front man. This is supported by Sylvian's inclusion of tracks from the album on solo compilations such as Everything & Nothing and A Victim Of Stars.

Bassist Mick Karn died in January 2011, ending all possibility of another full Japan reunion.[2]

"Blackwater" was released as the album's only single and just missed the Top 60 in the UK singles charts in March 1991. The album itself was, in general, critically acclaimed by the music press and reached the Top 25 in the UK albums chart. The Japanese box set includes also a 28 page booklet with exclusive photographs.

"...the album is at its best. Rain Tree Crow is not ponderous, as Japan once had pretensions to be, but it fills a darkened room nicely." -- Sue Peter, Option, 92

Track listing[edit]

The following tracklisting is for the re-mastered version of the album released in 2003. It contains an additional track not featured on the original album; called "I Drink to Forget," the song was the B-side of "Blackwater." The original album contained tracks 1 to 12, as listed below, in precisely the same order.

  1. "Big Wheels in Shanty Town" – 7:08
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar, hammond organ, electric piano, shortwave radio, horn arrangement
    • Bill Nelson - electric guitar
    • Mick Karn - bass, brass, horn arrangement
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Djene Doumbouya - vocal
    • Djanka Djabate - vocal
    • Steve Jansen - drums, percussion, hammond organ
    • Johnny Thirkell - trumpet/flugelhorn (as Phantom Horns)
    • Gary Barnacle - saxes (as Phantom Horns)
  2. "Every Colour You Are" – 4:46
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar, electric piano, shortwave radio, treatments
    • Phil Palmer - slide guitar
    • Mick Karn - bass, saxophone
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - drums, percussion
  3. "Rain Tree Crow" – 2:04
    • David Sylvian - vocal, percussion
    • Mick Karn - pipes
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - percussion
  4. "Red Earth (As Summertime Ends)" – 3:38
    • David Sylvian - slide guitar, keyboards, Indian drum
    • Phil Palmer - acoustic guitar
    • Michael Brook - bass conga
    • Mick Karn - bass, tabla
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Brian Gascoigne - orchestration
    • Steve Jansen - ceramic drums, percussion
  5. "Pocket Full of Change" – 6:08
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar, organ
    • Michael Brook - guitar treatments
    • Mick Karn - bass, brass
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - drums, percussion, organ
  6. "Boat's for Burning" – 0:45
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - tambourine
  7. "New Moon at Deer Wallow" – 5:12
    • David Sylvian - electric guitar, bass
    • Mick Karn - bass clarinet
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - Moroccan clay drum, fan drums
  8. "Blackwater" – 4:19
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar, keyboards
    • Bill Nelson - electric guitar
    • Mick Karn - bass
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - drums, percussion
  9. "A Reassuringly Dull Sunday" – 1:22
    • David Sylvian - organ, keyboards, percussion
    • Michael Brook - percussion
    • Mick Karn - bass clarinet, percussion
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer, piano
    • Steve Jansen - marimba, percussion
  10. "Blackcrow Hits Shoe Shine City" – 5:14
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar, organ, electric piano, keyboards, treatments
    • Mick Karn - bass, saxophone
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - drums, percussion
  11. "Scratchings on the Bible Belt" – 2:46
    • David Sylvian - electric guitar, banjo, marimba, harmonium
    • Michael Brook - treatments
    • Mick Karn - bass clarinet
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer, water wheel
    • Steve Jansen - piano, marimba, percussion
  12. "Cries and Whispers" – 2:31
    • David Sylvian - vocal, electric guitar, treatments
    • Mick Karn - bass
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizer
    • Steve Jansen - percussion
  13. "I Drink to Forget" - 1:46
    • David Sylvian - piano, keyboards, percussion
    • Mick Karn - wine glasses
    • Richard Barbieri - synthesizers
    • Steve Jansen - wine glasses, percussion

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Gary Barnacle - Saxes (as Phantom Horns)
  • Johnny Thirkell - Trumpet/Flugelhorn (as Phantom Horns)
  • Shinya Fujiwara - cover photography
  • Russell Mills - design
  • David Sylvian - art director, mixing
  • Yuka Fujii - art director
  • Steve Nye - mixing
  • Pat McCarthy - mixing engineer
  • Tim Martin - engineer
  • Mohammed (Momo) Loudly
  • Paolo Carrer - assistant
  • Rupert Coulson - assistant
  • Louise McCormick - assistant
  • Bruce Davis - assistant
  • Paul Stevens - assistant
  • Richard Chadwick - co-ordinator
  • Special thanks to Michael Brook, Sando Franchin, Yuka Fujii, Dermot McEnvoy, Russell Mills, Enrico Monte, Patrice Quef, Pete Townshend, Gary Wright, Syco Systems Ltd. (Adrian Thomas), Wal Basses, Sabian Cymbals


  1. ^ Prasad, Anil (1996). "Innerviews: Mick Karn". 
  2. ^ "Former Japan bass player Mick Karn loses battle with cancer". The Guardian. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 

External links[edit]