Record Review: Dr. Jan Guru – “Planet Japan” Limited CD-R [pt. 1]

Jansongs | HK | CD-R | 2021 | MRC K1014

Dr. Jan Guru: Planet Japan – HK – CD-R [2021]

  1. Johnny F
  2. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
  3. Psychotic Tokyo
  4. Hiroshima Mon Amour
  5. Sequential Sakura
  6. Woman Of Japan
  7. Psychedelic Geisha
  8. Revelation
  9. Raining Tomorrow
  10. Raining Part 2
  11. Lose Yourself With Me (Masami Tsuchiya guitar version)

When Jan Linton announced last year that he had secured a license to sell 30 CD-Rs of his Planet Japan” opus from 2004 that was beyond rare, I had a glint in my eye that I was not able to act upon until now. Though I am a big fan of Linton’s music, the inclusion of the Ultravox! classic “Hiroshima Mon Amour” made owning this disc a must for me. Last month, I finally acted on that proper impulse. Good thing, too!

This was a reissue of a 2004 album that is obscure enough not to be in the Discogs database. While Linton is a highly capable Art Rock guitarist he’d shared the guitar spotlight on this album with the great Masami Tsuchiya; giving us a situation similar to the second David Sylvian album, “Gone To Earth” where lead guitar was provided by both Bill Nelson and Robert Fripp. Oh, hurt me!

As soon as the laser hit the first song, the jittery “Johnny F” I was reminded of David Bowie’s attempt to merge Drum + Bass with more song-based Rock writing with “Little Wonder” on the “Earthling” album. Here, Linton played eBow but left lead guitar duties to Tsuchiya. Instead he was programming the bulk of the music bed with his synth and drum programming. The bigger difference here was instead of the doggerel of “Little Wonder” Linton took the song as an opportunity to express his ambivalence over his decision to expatriate to Japan. Bestowing the normally British appellation of “Johnny Foreigner” ironically upon himself. Jolts of techno energy with frantically manipulated samples were offset by his laidback vocal.

In spite of having similar sound design on the keyboards, the arrangement of “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds” here took the Beatles chestnut into deep space. But at the end of the day, it’s still a Beatles song that fails to connect with me. Though I did prefer Linton’s vocal to Lennon’s! Much more fascinating was the slow burning “Psychotic Tokyo” with appealingly dirty leads from Tsuchiya where the blues in the number contrasted with the distant, processed vocal by Linton. This was another song that examined the vacillation Linton felt about living in Tokyo.

The cover of “Hiroshima Mon Amour” was something else. The squelchy synth and drum loops were at a frantic tempo but the guitar from Linton hewed close to the tone that Stevie Shears used in the original. The vibe here was split between the grandeur of the LP version versus the intensity of the B-side version, courtesy of Ken Nishikawa’s furious techno loops. With the closing solo swapping Linton’s guitar for the tentative sax that never convinced me. His vocal was closer to Ferry territory here than either of Foxx’s takes.

“Sequential Sakura” was the sort of track that really should have showed up in a movie like “Tokyo Drift.” Linton played everything here and the cinematic cocoon of speed made this one a dangerous one to listen to in my car. Alas, there’s no stereo in my house right now so I had no choice, officer. Interestingly enough, outtakes from a Richard Barbieri sampling disc [“Cosmic Prophets”] were used here, netting the keyboardist writing credits.

The song “Woman Of Japan” has been stuck in my head for two days now, so I’m raising the white flag. It’s good to hear the trappings of electronica wedded to an ingratiating pop song. Mr. Nishikawa eased up on the accelerator pedal for his rhythm programming, and the resulting song allowed the formalism of Linton’s vocal melodies to take the spotlight here.

Next: …Disc of Revelation

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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