Steve Jansen co-founded Japan with his brother David Sylvian; Jansen's drumming - funky and precise - was a key component of that band's lightly manicured prog-pop. Jansen has been a sidekick for many of Sylvian's post-Japan sonic adventures, from solo albums via Rain Tree Crow to Nine Horses. Slope, Jansen's first solo album, develops similar moods with a mixture of exquisite, groove-based soundscapes and introspective torch songs. Several singers contribute, including Thomas Feiner (Anywhen), Tim Elsenburg, Anja Garbarek, Joan Wasser (aka Joan As Policewoman), Nina Kinert and Sylvian, who contributes the slightly underwhelming Playground Martyrs. Theo Travis adds wind instruments. Most of the sounds are made by Jansen, who has an improviser's ear for details of timbre, and a pop drummer's knack for catchy patterns: witness the hypnotic, asymmetrical Sleepyard, the careful sloppiness of Ballad of a Deadman (Wasser and Sylvian) and the gorgeous Sow the Salt, featuring Feiner's magisterial baritone.
JOHN L. WALTERS
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