Ryuichi Sakamoto

async

Milan

May 16, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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For legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, the value in creative engagement is bending and transitional, derived from different inspirations at each new point of departure. Sometimes it comes from a curiosity of a concept, that motivates his musical response to it, sometimes it comes from a gravity pull to other artists, be they other musicians or often in his career, filmmakers, whose work seeks the kind of patient, delicate touch that his beautiful fluency transmits. At times it has been conditions of socio political unrest that have moved him to confront with his own commentary in the form of a musical meditation. Or the inspiration may just come from within, when interactions with the surrounding physical and spiritual worlds build to a point where Sakamoto, true to his nature, must design and release, as it happens with his solo albums.

With async, his first solo studio album in eight years, Sakamoto has exercised that inward approach in expressing circulation between himself and his environments. Returning after an extended respite marked profoundly by his bout with and recovery from cancer, Sakamoto follows up his breathtakingly bottomless score for Alejandro G. Iñárritu's The Revenant, to quietly and persuasively remind people of his mastery.

An ever-evolving artist over the course of a career spanning decades, Sakamoto's new work is an extension of a current interest in an interplay of sound and music, "Not just music" says Sakamoto. This creative passage took inspiration and shape from a great many field recordings and collecting of strange sounds. One such field recording, possibly of Sakamoto himself tracking through the woods at night, carries through the scene-painting "walker," which delivers the very specific auditory equivalent of having the sound of a film that you aren't watching in your ears, deliberately paced and building in the background.

The word asynchronous describes objects or events that are not coordinated in time and there are levels in async that visit that incongruity. Sakamoto experiments with the linguistics of music, patterning arrhythmic tones and sonic emissions that create an embedded language to be translated into individual meaning by listeners. He leaves such articulations to be decoded at the end of "tri" and "ubi" and a full manuscript of it on "disintegration." There are also passages of spoken word in a variety of languages to ponder, from an artist whose wordless instrumentation has so often created spaces within which to reflect.

But async isn't merely experimentation in sound pattern. Elemental classical instrumentation rises and falls into waves of electronic filter, as though created somewhere in the distance from disturbed waters and finally passing through. In Sakamoto's delicate possession, the pressure of his grasp is minimal. Chosen elements are dropped in with care, and come from different directions in the stereo sound field, you can never tell from where. The neon pastel synths of "solari" and "stakra" have an electromagnetic field of warmth and a beautiful degraded quality that recalls the avant-garde synth soundtracks of the '70s and '80s. And "garden" is the fitting finale of grandeur, encompassing all the imagination, curiosity and majesty of one the immortal composers of music. The musical language of Ryuichi Sakamoto is esoteric and also innately relatable. Ultimately, it is beautiful. (www.sitesakamoto.com)

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