Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)
Rain Tree Crow is the result of a collaboration between former Japan members David Sylvian and Mick Karn. Sylvian and Karn teamed with keyboardist Richard Barbieri and Steve Jansen, adding guitarists Phil Palmer and Bill Nelson for their self-titled debut. Like a mellower, new age-oriented version of Japan, Rain Tree Crow explores stark soundscapes that sound alternately beautiful and desolate. Although it is a bit too challenging to provide a good introduction to Sylvian and Karn’s music, the album remains fascinating for their fans.
Wiki: Rain Tree Crow was the name used by the English New Wave band Japan (excluding Rob Dean, who had departed prior to Japan’s initial breakup) when they briefly reformed for this one-off project, which would be their final album. It was the first time all four members of the band, David Sylvian, Steve Jansen, Mick Karn and Richard Barbieri, collaborated on a project since the compilation of the 1983 live album Oil on Canvas.
Recorded in 1989-1990 and released in April 1991, the majority of the material on their eponymous album was written as a result of group improvisations (aside from ‚Blackwater‘ and ‚Every Colour You Are‘). There were no pre-rehearsals and the music that emerged was a hybrid of atmospheric ambient ballads in the style of lead singer David Sylvian’s contemporaneous albums and more dissonant experimental styles that sometimes echoed the work of Tom Waits and King Crimson.
All members of the band aside from Sylvian wished to retain the Japan moniker which was last used when the band split in December 1982. However, Sylvian levered increasing artistic and production control over the project (including his insistence on using the RTC name instead of Japan, much to the other members‘ bemusement and annoyance), to the point where the recording developed from a band effort into what was essentially another Sylvian solo project, leaving the other members as mere sessioners for the front man. This is supported by Sylvian’s inclusion of tracks from the album on solo compilations such as Everything & Nothing and A Victim Of Stars.
Bassist Mick Karn died in January 2011, ensuring that this would be the last album released by all four continuous Japan members.
„Blackwater“ was released as the album’s only single and just missed the Top 60 in the UK singles charts in March 1991. The album itself was, in general, critically acclaimed by the music press and reached the Top 25 in the UK albums chart. The Japanese box set includes also a 28 page booklet with exclusive photographs.