Taking Islands in Africa

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The closing track from 1980's Gentlemen Take Polaroids, "Taking Islands In Africa" forecasts the ambient pop direction Japan (and leader David Sylvian) would take for the rest of their careers. A collaboration between Sylvian and Yellow Magic Orchestra leader Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Taking Islands In Africa" is built on a very non-rock African talking drum rhythm, slowed down to a sub-heartbeat crawl and overlaid with layers of atmospheric keyboards and minimal bass. Sylvian's urbane voice croons his abstract, poetic lyrics over a backing chorus of wordless sighs and ululations, and the whole song is impressively spacious, elegant and beautifully done. It's probably Japan's finest five minutes.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Gentlemen Take Polaroids 1980 Virgin 5:20
No Image 1982 Epic
Gentlemen Take Polaroids/Tin Drum/Oil on Canvas 1990 Virgin 5:13