Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids (FLAC) MP3/Flac
The quintessential urban European artpop album. GTP is one of the era's creamiest, capturing the lite angst and rainy balustrades of being a young alien being in a big city. A lot of credit for the splendid sound of the album goes to producer John Punter and to the musicianship that fleshes out Sylvian's rather loose songs -- intricate and forcefully played drums and percussion, Mick Karn's Chaplinesque bass, beautifully programmed synthesizers, and key guest spots by Simon House on violin and Ruichi Sakamoto (on all of Taking Islands in Africa), and several female vocalists. Completed when the band was still shimmying under the eyeshadow of Roxy Music, there's nevertheless not a dud in the collection (except, perhaps, the sombre Bowie-Eno pastiche, Burning Bridges) and this version benefits from the inclusion of two 7"-only instrumentals not on the original. Many of the tracks have become firm fan favourites (the title track, Swing, Methods of Dance and the utterly beguiling Nighporter, which sticks Erik Satie at a bar with a south-London Baudelaire, to deliciously maudlin effect) but special mention has to go to My New Career (one of Sylvian's most underrated) and the cover of Ain't That Peculiar, which swings in a special moody, distracted, late night way.