Steve Jansen: Slope

Deluxe reissue of the ex-Japan man’s challenging 2007 piece.

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The first time this writer encountered Steve Jansen he was the Kabuki-faced drummer for Japan, supplying the sleazed-up backbeat to songs such as Adolescent Sex and Automatic Gun. Japan, of course, quickly eschewed their glam image, morphing into something much more artsy and mysterious. This lavish repackaging of Jansen’s 2007 solo album expands on that tradition exponentially.

A three disc digi-book, this comprises the original Slope plus remixes; The Occurrence Of Slope, recorded live in Japan; and a selection of his film soundtrack work. It’s a rich, absorbing often challenging listen as Jansen, by his own admission, pieces together “unrelated sounds, music samples, rhythms and ‘events’ in an attempt to deviate from my own trappings as a musician”.

On the sparse, stuttering blues of Ballad Of A Deadman Jansen’s brother and long-time collaborator David Sylvian trades vocals with Joan Wasser (Joan As Police Woman); Cancelled Pieces features a sultry performance from avant-pop singer Anja Garbarek and Conversation Over is a mesmerising if morbid instrumental.

Slope took five years to make, and you may well need that long to appreciate its beautiful, nuanced depth.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.