Sad news today that Mick Karn has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 52. Best known for pioneering fretless bass playing as the 70s became the 80s, some might say he bears considerable influence... and responsibility for this, as he spawned many dubious imitators.
He came to prominence playing bass in Japan, and his talent flourished more on each of their albums, culminating on Tin Drum, where his atmospheric bass playing formed the framework for such tracks as Ghosts, Canton and Visions of China.
After a falling out with David Sylvian over his girlfriend Yuka Fuji, the band split. Karn worked with ex-Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy in their project Dalis Car, and other projects including solo work, before regrouping with his ex-Japan bandmates for Rain Tree Crow. In my mind, this was his finest work, taking the atmospheric leanings of Tin Drum to the logical next step on tracks like Every Colour You Are.
For the remainder of his life he worked with a variety of artists, but mainly solo before his untimely passing. As I write this I'm listening to Sons of Pioneers off Tin Drum, as fine an example as any of his bass playing, and one of the few Japan tracks he was given a co-writing credit for.