Obscure Alternatives

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Their second album to hit the shelves in 1978, Japan's sophomore effort, Obscure Alternatives, found the band dropping most of their debut's funk fringe in favor of guitar-oriented fuzz and quirk -- scooping up the glitter left behind by all the scene's other nascent Siouxies and Adam Ants. Although the set isn't quite up to par with its predecessor, Obscure Alternatives is still a challenging listen. David Sylvian is snotty, snotty on "Automatic Gun" -- a spit-shined punk shocker backed by bright pop guitar -- and ironically playing into all the guises they eschewed. Both the wonderfully atmospheric and slightly menacing title track and "Love Is Infectious" put the band completely into discordant post-punk art house-dom, the latter including a twisted piano solo in the middle of the guitar crunch. "....Rhodesia," on the other hand, brought the funk back and infused it with a Caribbean essence. While there is no doubt that Obscure Alternatives paled in the shadow of Adolescent Sex, Japan had obviously, in their eyes, broken through to find their style, their groove. Still eons away musically from their more commercial Tin Drum heyday, the band were nevertheless cultivating a breathtaking crop of kernels.

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