Camera Obscura Alternatives

1982 Sons of Pioneers promo shoot
1982 Sons of Pioneers promo shoot Signed by Steve & Richard

Over the last few weeks, followers of Steve’s ‘sleepyard’ blog may have noticed him sharing a number of ‘previously unseen’ photos of JAPAN. The images, taken by a range of photographers and spanning the band’s full career – from the pomp & pout of the late 70s, to the pristine poses of the Virgin era – were discovered earlier in the year, and it has been fabulous to finally see some new photos emerge.

Richard by Yuka
Richard Barbieri – photographed by Yuka Fujii

Whilst many of the images have not been officially published previously, some of the shots may seem familiar to many fans; there are a number of ‘alternative’ photos from sessions with Patrick Litchfield, which appeared in The Sunday Times magazine (and one of my least favourite JAPAN photo-shoots, for the record!) as well as lots of early promos by Günther Rakete and a whole slew of uncredited shots of the band in recording studios and on stage.

The Alternative Smiling Session – by Patrick Lichfield

A number of these photos are now being auctioned on behalf of the band members. For those blog-readers who do not access the FB groups, where the auctions are discussed and promoted, here is the link to the goodies which are currently on eBay.


The auctions will run for 7-days. News and discussion about this, and other JAPAN-related announcements, are updated regularly on the ‘NIGHTPORTER’ facebook page. Come and join us!

legal tender extinction – so many lovely things to buy, so little money

Despite my best of intentions to try and keep the Jansen Photography Blog focused upon the very specific subject of Steve’s photography (rather than it becoming a fan blog for all-things-Jansen) there are times when events beyond my control conspire to make it impossible for me to remain on message, and I find myself veering wildly off course into the murky waters of all sorts of Japan/Jansen-related topics. So, forgive me friends, if today I am guilty of doing this yet again; but the news that has been coming out over the last couple of weeks deserves sharing far and wide.

When this blog first came to life, there was little going on in the world of Japan-related news. Steve had started sharing some of his photos via his tumblr site and there was a steady growth of interest in the few facebook fan-pages, but other than the promise of Anthony Reynold’s Japan biography and the long-awaited publication of David’s ‘hypergraphia’ being on the horizon, it was all pretty quiet. Then, it all got a bit exciting.

K-Scope announced re-releases of Jansen/Barbieri material, as well as vinyl editions of much of Mick’s back catalogue, which was incredibly welcome news to many of us. Steve then published ‘through a quiet window’ (hurray) and started hinting that his long-awaited second album may well be forth-coming (hurray again). Then, just at the back-end of 2015, came the incredible news that Richard Barbieri was going to perform a master-class and concert at Huddersfield University in January.

Whatever next?

Along came 2016 and with it the surprising news of a new JBK release ‘breakable moon’, as well as the sale of the limited remaining stock of some the Medium titles, which had been discovered languishing under Richard’s bed (or so I like to believe). Following this, came the announcement that Steve was indeed gearing up to release his new album, ‘tender extinction’ in a matter of weeks. I was more than delighted to note that it was being released to coincide rather beautifully with my birthday, which has to be just about the best present I could have asked for.  So much better than another M&S voucher and an out-of-date Easter egg (such is the curse of an early April birthday). Surely, we all thought, this would be it for now? Could our middle-aged tickers take any more excitement?


I have a feeling that this may just be the beginning….in which case, we may all need to reach for the beta-blockers.

Having lived through somewhat of a drought, it now feels like we are in full monsoon season, doesn’t it? It is as if Steve has just awoken from a particularly long and restful snooze and, having stretched and yawned in a rather Bagpuss-like way, he has looked around and thought “OK, just how many pies can I stick my fingers into?”

(N.B. For legal reasons I feel I should point out that my reference to ‘pies’ here is not related in any way, shape or form, to the ‘pies’ Mick mentioned in his book. Please do not sue me.)

For, alongside the impending release of ‘tender extinction’ comes the news this week of Exit North, a collaboration between Steve, Thomas Feiner, Ulf Jansson and Charlie Storm, who have been working on material and have plans for an autumn release.In response to a question on ‘sleepyard’ today, Steve has also hinted at a possible live, improvised performance with his long-time collaborator and friend, Yukihiro Takahashi. Good grief.

As if this wasn’t enough, following the incredibly successful (and for me, rather emotional) performance by Richard Barbieri in Huddersfield in January, he has announced 2 further concerts (now sold out) to be held in Birmingham in November.  Richard, who has been hoarding Japan-related memorabilia for 4 decades, is also now in the process of sorting through his collection, and is now selling off items, including some unique personal pieces; including these fantastic glasses, as worn by Steve on the cover of ‘obscure alternatives’ and Richard in the picture below. (thanks to Keiko Kurata for the photo)


The auctions of items are being held on alternate Sundays on ebay – I would strongly urge anyone who may be interested in knowing more about the actions, to join the ‘Nightporter’ facebook page, as Paul Rymer posts intriguing clues as to which items may be appearing next.  It is also worth joining this page, as Richard sometimes posts personal photographs for our amusement and edification, which can lead to some incredibly surreal threads!

I have a strong feeling that 2016 may well be the most interesting of years for anyone who follows the careers of Messrs Jansen, Barbieri, Dean, Karn and Sylvian. I just think it may also be one which leaves many of us pretty skint….but, as Doris would say, que sera sera

(Many of you are regular readers and contributors to a number of facebook groups which focus upon the members of Japan, so some of this news will be familiar to you, but I know that we have a large number of blog readers who are not part of this community, so it feels appropriate to share this information with as many people as possible.)

You can join the Nightporter facebook group here:

Follow Steve and JBK on bandcamp here:

Steve and Richard both have facebook pages where they post information on up-coming releases: