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NEWS: Anthony Reynolds book explores life of Japan’s members following breakup (1983-1991)

Anthony Reynolds - photo by Thomy Kea
29 January 2019

Anthony Reynolds – Photo Credit: Thomy Keat

British indie label Burning Shed has announced it will be publishing a book, bound to thrill lovers of the group Japan, detailing the fascinating musical adventures of David Sylvian, Richard Barbieri, Rob Dean, Steve Jansen and Mick Karn from the time that the band decided to call it a day in December 1982, right up until 1991.

This book follows A Foreign Place, which was the first serious book on Japan. It was translated into Japanese and published in Japan, where it held at number one on the Japanese Amazon Pop Music Biography chart for four weeks. It has sold over 4000 copies to date, including the Japanese edition, without any external distribution.

The idea of a follow up feels like a crack opening in the door for anyone left behind – like a way to get a feel for the inner workings and apparent development of Japan’s members, not to mention their far-reaching mood swings, since the band disbanded in 1982.

With praise already coming in for this book by The Wire and accolades for A Foreign Place from the likes of Prog Magazine, Classic Pop, The Wire and even Mat Osman of Suede, Cries and Whispers clearly offers plenty to sink your teeth into.

Cries and Whispers is being made available as a limited deluxe hardback first edition from Burning Shed. The book takes in David Sylvian’s work for his first three solo albums, The Dolphin Brothers, Dalis Car with Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy, the brilliant but ill-feted album they released under the name Rain Tree Crow, and more.

Featuring a cover by renowned graphic designer Carl Glover, this unique book also boasts contributions from Bill Nelson, Johnny Marr, Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins/Bella Union), Ivo Watts-Russell (4AD Records), Bill Bruford (King Crimson), Martin Fry (ABC), Paul Morley (NME/ ZTT Records), Thomas Dolby and the late Colin Vearncombe (Black), among others. It also includes previously unpublished photographs, including many from the private archives of the band members themselves.

Just as Japan’s unmistakably advanced musical vision made it pretty tough to dismiss their music as mere new wave, so too does Cries and Whispers need to be taken every bit at seriously as its predecessor A Foreign Place. Between his two latest publications, Anthony Reynolds has clearly put forth the most far-reaching and insightful publications about Japan and its members published to date.

Japan not only achieved a cult following, a status that its members somewhat maintained in their post-Japan days. They ultimately became one of the most semi-obscure but critically-acclaimed rock enigmas of our time. The band split just as they were beginning to experience commercial success in the UK and abroad, having achieved nine UK Top 40 hits in the early 1980s. They were unquestionably one of the most influential and innovative pop groups of the 1970s and 1980s. Sylvian’s impression on Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon and Nick Rhodes, along with a mass of other youth, is well documented.

Cries and Whispers also explores David Sylvian’s collaborations with Holger Czukay and Ryuichi Sakamoto, the latter of which resulted in their epic Forbidden Colours, which featured on the soundtrack album of the hit film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. Sylvian’s voice, while being a unique beast wavering somewhere between Ferry and Bowie, was always grounded in the unreal and, especially as was revealed, the surreal.

“Is it shameful to be 40 something and still have a ‘favourite band’? If so, colour me shamed. Japan are my favourite band and as a fan I wanted to write and publish books on them that would enrapture and delight the fan in me. I hope I’ve done so, matching Style with content and mystery with beauty,” says author Anthony Reynolds.

Apart from his 2 Japan-related books, Anthony Reynolds has published biographies on Leonard Cohen (a bestseller), Scott Walker and The Walker Brothers, and Jeff Buckley. He has also published two collections of poetry. To date, his books have been translated into 12 languages.

In 1993, Reynolds founded the critically acclaimed group Jack, releasing three albums between 1996 and 2002. Since then, Anthony has released 10 other albums under various guises plus innumerable singles and EPs, playing various concerts around the world. He also scored the soundtracks for feature length films -Open My Eyes_ and Adrift in Soho.

Burning Shed is an online record label/store since 2001 specialising in progressive and art rock music. Burning Shed hosts the official online shops for Jansen, Barbieri and Karn, Porcupine Tree and King Crimson, among many others.

In 212 pages, this 210 × 210mm square, hardback book is cloth-bound with a gold and silver foil debos and features approximately 260 pictures. All copies of Cries and Whispers come with a postcard signed by the author. Both Japan books are available exclusively through Burning Shed’s website

Listen to some of the other beautiful music members of Japan made during the period explored:

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Anthony Reynolds at Burning Shed

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