Saturday, 23 January 2016

Crystal Japan

Musings on Crystal Japan, one of David Bowie’s secret and sadly neglected masterpieces… I’ve always considered this beautiful instrumental something of an orphan, its exact lineage is still debatable. Ostensibly the track is associated with the Scary Monsters album, apparently it was intended to close the album before being relegated to the flipside of the Up the Hill Backwards single. Furthermore Rykodisc reinstated the track back into Scary Monsters when it appeared on their 1992 CD re-issue as a bonus cut. And yet, Crystal Japan, or to give it its original title Fuje Moto San, doesn’t sound much like anything recorded during Scary Monsters, in fact the piece had been written in advance of Bowie’s appearance in the Crystal Jun Rock commercial in March 1980 which puts Crystal Japan just ahead of the Scary Monsters sessions. I’m thinking the track emerged from the Lodger recordings (and if so I wonder what else missed the album’s final cut) although listening to the track this morning I think it shares some of the same DNA as Sense of Doubt off “Heroes”. Despite Crystal Japan not having any readily identifiable Japanese elements (no koto strumming like Moss Garden), I think the track with its childlike melody would sound terrific in a Studio Ghibli film. Listen here


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