Merry Birthday, Mr. Sylvian

Oh, is that Nick Rhodes? He's the lead singer? It's his side project?
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Photo: last.fm

Oh, is that Nick Rhodes? He’s the lead singer? It’s his side project?

…No! It’s David Sylvian, the frontman of Japan. And today, 23 Feb, is his birthday.

Thanks to Nick Rhodes and New Romantic movement, though. That’s how I was introduced to David Sylvian and his band, Japan. However, David Sylvian is more avant-garde, more Roxy Music than Duran Duran pretty boys, sexed up synth-pop; and hated himself playing the uncomfortable role of young pop icon.

After the breakup of Japan, this reluctant star retreated into a series of four albums—including his masterpiece, Secrets of the Beehive—built on noir balladry, instrumental abstraction, and an abiding sense of distance. He also worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto on the UK Top 20 song “Forbidden Colours” for the 1983 Nagisa Oshima film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.

This song here, “Quiet Life” from Japan’s album with the same title has been described as one the first albums of the New Romantic movement, though Japan always flatly denied they were New Romantics.

Merry birthday, Mr. Sylvian!

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.

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