Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Rain Tree Crow

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Rain Tree Crow Rain Tree Crow album cover
3.56 | 58 ratings | 11 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Big Wheels in Shanty Town (7:08)
2. Every Colour You Are (4:46)
3. Rain Tree Crow (2:04)
4. Red Earth (As Summertime Ends) (3:38)
5. Pocket Full of Change (6:08)
6. Boat's for Burning (0:45)
7. New Moon at Red Deer Wallow (5:12)
8. Blackwater (4:19)
9. A Reassuringly Dull Sunday (1:22)
10. Blackcrow Hits Shoe Shine City (5:14)
11. Scratchings on the Bible Belt (2:46)
12. Cries and Whispers (2:31)

Total Time: 45:34

Bonus Track on 2003 reissue:
13. I Drink to Forget (1:56)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Sylvian / vocals, electric & slide (4) guitars, Hammond (1,5,9,10), e-piano (1,2,10), synthesizer (4,8-10), banjo (11), bass (7), harmonium & marimba (11), percussion (3), Indian drum (4), Fx, treatments, horn arrangements (1), keyboard programming
- Richard Barbieri / synths, piano (9), noises (11), keyboard programming
- Mick Karn / bass, sax, bass clarinet, pipes, tabla, horn arrangements (1)
- Steve Jansen / drums, percussion, Hammond (1,5), tambourine (6), Moroccan drum (7), marimba (9,11), treated piano (11), computer programming

- Djene Doumbouya / vocals (1)
- Djanka Diabate / vocals (1)
- Bill Nelson / guitar (1,8)
- Phil Palmer / slide (2) & acoustic (4) guitars
- The Phantom Horns / horns (1)
- Brian Gascoigne / orchestration (4)
- Michael Brook / treatments (5,11), percussion (9), congas (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Russell Mills with Shinya Fujiwara (photo)

LP Virgin ‎- V2659 (1991, UK)
LP Virgin ‎- 679 534-1 (2019, Europe) Remastered by Tony Cousins

CD Virgin ‎- CDV 2659 (1991, UK)
CD Virgin ‎- 7243 5 91026 2 7 (2003, UK) Remastered by Tony Cousins with a bonus track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy RAIN TREE CROW Rain Tree Crow Music

More places to buy RAIN TREE CROW music online

RAIN TREE CROW Rain Tree Crow ratings distribution

(58 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RAIN TREE CROW Rain Tree Crow reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Japan reformed for this one off collaboration of stunningly beautiful tunes created from studio improvisations, full of slow, groove inflected pieces with sensual vocals by David Sylvian, a plethora of percussive instruments by Steve Jansen, synth ambience courtesy of Richard Barbieri and the slippery slide fretless bass playing of Mick Karn. A concoction reminiscent of Sylvian's solo music, but with more experimentation and mood.

Sylvian's voice is in the "love it, or hate it" category. Personally, I find his voice soothing, yet dreamy and seductive. This is music to get laid to. Subtle and suggestive. Songs of love lost and dying, pain and ache. No new territory, just music done well. Karn and Sylvian also add a bit of multi-instrumental flavor with sax, clarinet, harmonium and other devices. A unique mix.

Stand out tracks include the opener "Big Wheels in Shanty Town" with it's swirling percussive mix and African backing vocals and pulse bass. Hypnotic. "Blackcrow Hits Show Shine City" with Bill Nelson (Be-Bop Deluxe) playing a wonderful bluesy solo. "Blackwater" is a radio-friendly tune that is achingly plaintive and emotive.

Porcupine Tree fans may be interested to hear pre-PT music from Richard Barbieri, as well as aspiring bass players who should check out fretless master, Mick Karn and those who enjoy more ambient fare would find plenty to muse over with Rain Tree Crow.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Made BY Japan

Multi-talented David Sylvian leads this apparently one time only project, in which he is reunited with former band mates from JAPAN. The album comes across as primarily a Sylvian solo project, the sound often being sparse. At times there are suggestions of jazz/fusion on other occasions Jeff Buckley comes to mind, perhaps even a bit of the mellower end of Dire Straits.

The opening track, "Big wheels in shanty town" is slightly misleading, as Sylvan is less to the fore than on the remainder of the album. "Pocketful of change" is one of the more accessible tracks, with hints of Nick Cave, and Porcupine Tree (who would later gain Richard Barbieri). "Blackwater" would have made (and may have been) a good single, it is not pop as such, but certainly has more instant appeal than most of the tracks.

I found little true prog here, but the music is undoubtedly atmospheric. Sylvian has always been an acquired taste, and while this album is not simply another JAPAN release, it is still demanding and can be "difficult".

Many will get great pleasure from "Rain tree crow", many others will find it all rather dull.

Review by soundsweird
4 stars I'm writing this review just as a way to pass on something I read at the time this came out. I believe it was in Tower Records' magazine Pulse!, and it reported that David Sylvian had gone back in the studio after the album was supposedly finished, and drastically altered the final mix. He apparently took the other Japan members' parts, deleting or heavily processing them, without their knowledge. According to the article, which was very short, the other three were very upset, and no longer wanted to have anything to do with Sylvian. Of course, that was over 10 years ago, so things may have changed. When I listen to "New Moon at Red Deer Wallow", it seems obvious that the track was radically altered. As it happens, I really love that track, and played it for my fellow Electroacoustic Music composers a few years ago. Of course, XTC did something similar in the early 80's with their dub experiments. Other songs on the album were left alone, apparently. Anyway, it's as good as a lot of Sylvian's solo work, but you probably already know that.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album just does not click for me, Maybe there was a lot of angst between David Sylvian and the other members at the time as people have said. It falls way short of what Japan had to offer and David Sylvian's classics like Brilliant Trees.' New Moon at Red Deer Wallow' and ' Big Wheels in Shanty Town' are the best of a pretty poor lot.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is stunningly beautiful album from the band once known as JAPAN, although not much different in style from David Sylvian's solo works. Slow-paced, ambient and sometimes jazz instrumentation may sound monotonous or too softy to the uninitiated, but it's pretty much how I would describe a sort of art/experimental rock music. Perhaps not a groundbreaking release, post-rock lovers may wish to check it out. If you like Sylvian's style, you have to have this item in you collection. But, further to that, I would like to recommend RTC even to general prog audience.
Review by Prog-jester
3 stars My first introduction to Sylvian's music, RAIN TREE CROW were recommended to me as something related to late TALK TALK. Unfortunately, they're nothing close, but fortunately they're quite enjoyable on their own. Take 80s CRIMSON, through away cranky Fripp solos (at least, it's imaginary possible!) and install nice low male vocals (David himself). Mix of ambient, proto-post-rock, experimental electronica and singer-songwriter attitude makes RAIN TREE CROW accessible but still progressive. Not that much essential in my book, but if you're fan of above-mentioned stuff, you may hunt for this album (it's really quite rare, as much as I know). Recommended.
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars File under Japan. Or wait no, don't file it there at all!

In the 10 years that separate this album from Tin Drum, each of the Japan members had been involved in solo careers and the fields of music they engaged in during those years made entirely different musicians from them. So when they teamed up again to create this record something entirely new emerged from it. No wonder they decided not to go under the Japan banner any more.

Gone is everything that linked Japan to the art-rock and new wave of the early 80's. Sylvian's vocals have dropped another octave and the music has become much more atmospheric, jazzy, free and exploratory. This album contains a kind of musical soundscapes, with a slowly creeping intensity that gets under your skin right when you expected to doze off. There still are some Japan traits, especially the Cantonese influences that pop up in tracks like New Moon and Blackcrow still remind us of Tin Drum. But the grown musical confidence of the band makes these pieces work better for me then on the somewhat contrived Tin Drum album.

After a very strong start, the quality sinks in a bit after track 8 and it doesn't fully recover again. The material becomes more experimental and almost entirely instrumental, as if Sylvian had already turned his back on his colleagues again. On tracks 10,11 and 12, his soulful breathy croon is surely missed.

File under latter day Talk Talk, sung by Sylvian, and played by Japan. Beautiful piece of work.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars Bahh! I remember being SO disappointed when I first heard this in '91. 'Rain Tree Crow' sound nothing like 'Japan' whatsoever. However, it has grown on me over the years in the same way that Talk Talk's last two albums have. In fact if you swapped vocalists you'd be hard pushed to tell which band is which.

On the downside Richard Barbieri is relegated to the sidelines, pushed into a corner and unable to deliver any significant contribution. 'Rain Tree Crow sounds more like a Sylvian solo album circa 'Dead Bees on a Cake' than a joint venture with his 'Japan' pals. It seems to me that he had something of a domineering personality when it came to recording. That's not to say that this recording is a failure, far from it. It's just that I expected more of a band effort.

The once Western European then far Eastern pop sound has well and truly vanished forever. This one sounds more 'cactus and cowboy'.

Fans of the last years of 'Talk Talk' will like this. Guaranteed.

Review by Rivertree
4 stars Occasionally I'm coming back to this album, as 'Rain Tree Crow' is something for special moments exclusively. This Japan offshoot ... or rebirth ... it's got to be it, right? ... or whatever else ... might be somewhat controversial. David Sylvian himself claims that this production would be his personal favourite of all the material created with these musicians, which are Richard Barbieri, Mick Karn and Steve Jansen basically, as well as several guests. So what's the matter here? The album is the result of mostly improvised sessions at diverse studios situated in France, Italy and the UK, recorded between September 1989 and April 1990 - that means a windfall, if you ask me, roundabout seven years after the official Japan break-up

'I haul you in a sea of silence' - their outcome fascinated me from the beginning - speaking of eclectic styled dark mooded melancholicsongs, pretty much based on a semi-acoustic fundament. It all starts with the space/ethno/jazz fusion blend called Big Wheels In Shanty Town which alone is an astonishing affair - every time I listen to this song I'm quite sure to detect a new facet - guitars, bass, hammond, electric piano, drums, horns and synths - all the ingredients are put together to something challenging. And I still did not mention every component yet - also speaking of some native African female vocal contributions ... and then, just when being on the way to leave the town again, Sylvian joins in with his distinctive signature - a sentimental singing voice which surely plays an important role on this production.

By the way - Blackcrow Hits Shoe Shine City is another exemplar which sheers away from the general course a bit - the clearest reference to a rock music behaviour maybe. I would say the song gets relatively close to the early Porcupine Tree space/ambient phase due to Barbieri's synthesizer presence. Mostly though they slow down, provide an atmosphere hard to place, absolutely unique, in a wider sense akin to some tracks on the latest self-titled SBB album, or the late Talk Talk phase. And I adore this clear sound, man! - just take the folklore as well as classically tinged acoustic guitar on Red Earth, contributed by Phil Palmer.

So this is something for well-adjusted moments only, otherwise it may get you down. You are warned! The ambient atmospheric sound overall, combined with a rather sinister album art work, is not suitable for people who have a tendency to be depressed. This would mean that 'Rain Tree Crow' is something polarizing maybe. According to the motto, either you love it, or you hate it - there's nothing in between. Now you may guess, I love it, yeah, this is a wonderful contribution to my collection which I won't miss, laden with fascinating details, dedicated to a relaxed trip - headphones and full concentration required - and then the album temporarily hijacks me into another dimension, in order to charge my internal battery - 4.5 stars.

Review by Gooner
4 stars Rain Tree Crow is a one-shot album, but excellent to say the least. What was supposed to be a reunion between the members of Japan, turned into a supergroup of the "Who's Who" in '90s Progressive Rock. Members are Mick Karn, Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree), Steve Jansen, David Sylvian, Michael Brook, and Bill Nelson. The members of Japan realized they were performing entirely different material from what they were previously covering in the 80s; thus, the name Rain Tree Crow prevails. Here's a quote from the liner notes: "The majority of the material on this album was written as a result of group improvisations. There were no pre-rehearsals; The improvisation took place in the recording studio and much of the finished work contains original elements of those initial performances." This CD would appeal to fans of Bark Psychosis, later period-Talk Talk, Eno and '80s King Crimson (the ambient works such as "Nuage" & "The Sheltering Sky"). Highly recommended!

Latest members reviews

4 stars I was a big fan of Japan at the time and subsequently loved Sylvian and Karn's solo work and when this album appeared - hyped by the music press as a 'Japan reunion', it certainly wasn't what I expected on first listen. Rather than deliver a commercial album loaded with a few pop hits, what you g ... (read more)

Report this review (#1702373) | Posted by Freddie Valentine | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of RAIN TREE CROW "Rain Tree Crow"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.