Rain Tree Crow
4.6Overall Score

Rain Tree Crow was a onetime continuation of the successful ’80s band Japan. In collaboration with David Sylvian, singer of both groups, record company Universal has started a series of vinyl re-releases.

The man with the shrouded voice leads a relatively reticent life in the United States. For a long time it almost seemed he had fallen into oblivion, but the interest in one of his solo albums, released on Record Store Day 2018, turned out to be unexpectedly large. It was the go-ahead to re-release those other LP’s by him, as well as a hefty amount of previous work by Japan. At some point the band started shaking off the stigma of new wave and cleverly deceived the zeitgeist especially their albums Quiet Life and Gentlemen Take Polaroids which remain timeless masterpieces in their own right.

David Sylvian is a figure who prefers to explore the landscape of his soul. To him, Rain Tree Crow not only became an artistic extension of his solo efforts, but an attempt to reinvent himself as a songwriter by linking pop even more to non-western sounds, rhythms and ambient. Just like the best songs by Japan, Rain Tree Crow has a strong undertone of melancholy. Melodies are ejected to seduce you slowly but surely—and how special the recordings were. Most of the songs originated from intuitive improvisations recorded on the spot in the studio. It is music that constantly turns from the inside to the outside and vice versa. Sultry, organic, completely elusive. Music to listen to all by yourself. And hey, suddenly, there’s a real song with a sing-along chorus (Blackwater).

This LP by Rain Tree Crow was originally released in 1991, the year which famously produced a number of iconic albums that became important and groundbreaking in the years that followed with Talk Talk, Nirvana, U2, My Bloody Valentine, Slint and Massive Attack all having their say. Rain Tree Crow can be added to this list, you just need to know where to look. And just like with the aforementioned albums, the music doesn’t resemble everything that was made before or after its creation.

The image of a desert area on the cover of this re-issue is more emphatically in black and white than on the original LP. The inner sleeve has been adjusted with an extra photo and, generally speaking, the mood is a bit moodier compared to the more fashionable artwork of the ’90s. The images are taken from the roadtrip book American Roulette by photographer Shinya Fujiwara but more importantly, the sound quality of this reissue is simply fantastic and sounds so much better and more vital on vinyl than ever before.

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