• Landscape
  • Landscape (UK RCA) 1980 
  • From the Tea-Rooms of Mars ... to the Hell-holes of Uranus (RCA) 1981 
  • Manhattan Boogie-Woogie (RCA) 1982 
  • Richard James Burgess
  • Richard James Burgess EP (Capitol) 1984 

A high-tech synthesizer group led by Richard Burgess, producer of Visage, King and Spandau Ballet and onetime soft-rocker (as a member of Easy Street). In Landscape, Burgess sang and handled synthetic and acoustic drums, while his four collaborators played bass, keyboards, trombone and woodwinds, all employing both electronic and traditional instruments. Their work is slick and polished, perfect for sophisticated dance parties, but the songs retain a lyrical cleverness that prevents total bland-out. Not quite an ’80s version of 10cc, Landscape played rhythmic rock, but with a heavy dose of jazzy fusion.

From the Tea-Rooms of Mars has a witty paean to Japanese industry (“Shake the West Awake”) and a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Psycho (“Norman Bates”). Manhattan Boogie-Woogie is more directly disco-oriented, with a driving beat and popping bass, but also manages clever bits like “It’s Not My Real Name” (“I got it from a book…”). There was always something detached and artificial about Landscape — as though they were slumming in contemporary music and would rather be doing something more artistic — but they did make enjoyable records that work on a number of different levels.

Burgess’ self-produced solo record — six long numbers with a large collection of sidemen (one Landscape bandmate) adding synthesizer and guitars — is sophisticated and tedious commercial dance music of little interest. (Feminists might want to hear the noxious “Thank You Ladies” for some immediate hackle-raising.)

[Ira Robbins]