Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ballad of a Deadman



Best-known as the drummer and percussionist extraordinaire for defunct early-1980s synth-pop Orientalists Japan, the reclusive but indomitable Steve Jansen has gone on to carve a rather successful solo career as a session musician and producer of note, even if this is the sort of success that can’t be measured by any commercial considerations. Jansen’s musical aesthetic is very similar to that of erstwhile Japan frontman David Sylvian (who, incidentally, has been firmly established as a veteran luminary of leftfield, experimental pop): his works are quietly compelling, substantially eclectic pieces that reveal new subtleties and inventive textures with each listen. This approach has placed him squarely along the outer firmaments of contemporary art-rock (along with Sylvian), and has also won him no small amount of respect and acclaim from more discerning listening quarters. For a sample of Jansen’s unique artistry, check out this persuasive live performance of 'Ballad of a Deadman’, an outrageously mutated country and western ditty that mixes in liberal doses of folktronica and Fourth World music, with slightly spooky duet vocals provided by Sylvian and folktronica icon Joan Wasser.

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