Oh how we love embedded players! Scroll down to press play and then come back to continue reading ;-). Steve Jansen is one of the founding members of the band Japan. If you have grey hair or no hair left at all, you will probably remember their somewhat extravagant features on the brim of the 70s and 80s that jumpstarted quite the opposite of a Quiet Life. They entered the recorded music scene with Adolescent Sex in 1978 and you guessed it, an album title like that did stir the pot of controversy in a generally conservative society.
Their fifth and final studio album Tin Drum (1981) received a BBC Radio 6 award for Best Album of 1981, thirty years after its release. To put in perspective of what was happening musically back then, Steely Dan‘s Gaucho was released a year prior in 1980 marking a change in style as some say. Gaucho was more focused on minimalism, groove and atmosphere compared to their earlier records. Donald Fagen‘s Nightfly (1982) was his first solo release after he and Walter Becker split up in 1981, ending their collaboration as Steely Dan until they recorded and released Two Against Nature (2000), two decades later.
So we move fast forward to the present, kind of. You can read more about Steve Jansen in a bio on his website or via other sources, and as such also listen to collaborative projects with, for example, Yukihiro Takahashi, drummer and co-founder of the Yellow Magic Orchestra. A few days ago various Todd Rundgren incarnations were in heavy rotation professing of the man’s utter genius over and over again, so we were pleasantly surprised to find his I Saw The Light on Takahashi’s Once A Fool album (1985). And it’s not as if we are looking for a Steely connection in everything, but we remember from the old Mizar5 days a rare sighting of Walter Becker at the Avatar Studios where Elliot Scheiner was mixing Porcupine Tree’s latest release at the time, In Absentia (2002). If you click the Avatar Studios link, you can see Walter in a picture with Elliot, along with Richard Barbieri and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Click the image below for a large version.
The most unlikely Porcupine Tree fan ever?
Keyboardist Richard Barbieri was also a Japan band member and he and Steve Jansen formed The Dolphin Brothers who released one album in 1987, and a few EP’s. The both of them continued to collaborate from time to time and recorded a number of albums, among which Stone To Flesh (1995) that was re-mastered in 2015. And we also can’t ignore the excellent 2 Meter Sessions hosted by Jan Douwe Kroeske in the Netherlands which since its inception in 1987 is still going strong. You can see Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri and Mick Karn† in the 2 Meter studio.
Steve Jansen photography
We now like to go straight to Steve Jansen’s very own music because it truly speaks louder than words. However louder, that’s not really an appropriate characterization to describe his work and creativity. Apart from recording music, or sounds, also in collaboration with his brother David Sylvian, Steve has a knack for photography and produced a book which enables the viewer a unique opportunity to travel back in time, the 80s to be exact, and to witness the Japan era: Through A Quiet Window.
You can check out his entire music catalogue at the Bandcamp page: https://stevejansen.bandcamp.com/