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Japan - Oil on Canvas  CD (album) cover

OIL ON CANVAS

Japan

 

Prog Related

3.39 | 35 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Oil on Canvas" is a live album release by UK art pop act Japan. The album was released through Virgin Records in June 1983. The original version was released as a double vinyl version. It´s the highest charting album by the band although it was released several months after the band split-up. "Oil on Canvas" was recorded during Japan´s final UK performances in November 1982 at the six-night sold out stint of concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon. "Oil on Canvas" is not exclusively a live album though as the band have chosen to include some new instrumental studio recordings on the album too.

It´s not like it´s something you notice though as the live tracks are rather sterile and more or less sound like they were recorded in a studio too. Audience noise is very sparse and low in the mix, which doesn´t exactly enhance the feeling that you´re listening to a live recording. When that is said the live versions of the tracks are different from the original studio versions and "Oil on Canvas" is still a good quality release even though a more "live" sound, to my ears, would have boosted the listening experience. Most tracks are from "Tin Drum (1981)", which is natural enough as it was the latest studio album at the time and they toured in support of that album, when recording "Oil on Canvas", but there are tracks from other albums too.

Not surprisingly the musicianship is on a high level. David Sylvian delivers sensitive and melancholic vocals and the keyboards by Richard Barbieri are adventurous and well played. It´s the rythm section of bassist Mick Karn and drummer Steve Jansen that take the prize though. Especially Mick Karn plays some incredible bass lines. This might be some sort of artsy pop music upon initial listens, but dig a little deeper and you´ll learn how sophisticated it actually is underneath. Session guitarist/keyboardist Masami Tsuchiya helps the soundscape to be more full and layered.

Overall "Oil on Canvas" is an enjoyable release by Japan. In terms of being a vibrant live album it fails a bit, but somehow it´s still an interesting and engaging listen. The detailed and clear sound production might have something to do with it, but the high level musicianship and of course the generally high quality of the compositions are great assets too. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

UMUR | 3/5 |

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