Ryuichi Sakamoto is an incredible artist, and one I’ve been following closely for the past year. While he has put out an enormous amount of quality music, my favorite has always been releases where he teams up with other artists – specifically Fennesz and Alva Noto. All the records he makes with them are wonderful pieces of ambient avant-garde wonderment, dazzled with his piano.
It was my surprise when I saw that he had released two more records with these artists this year. The first one being Flumina with Fennesz and the second being Summvs with Alva Noto. And – of course – they are both top-notch ambient rides laced with piano and bits of trailing digital sounds.
I honestly can’t say that I like him paired with one artist over the other, but I do find myself in moods for one or the other. However, you get this seasoned feel with Sakamoto & Alva Noto, because they have collaborated since 2002 when Vrioon débuted. I always preferred Insen, released in 2005; but they’re all good and different in their own right.
Summvs, being the 5th effort and apparently the last from Sakamoto & Alva Noto, has managed to bring – yet again – something incredibly (and strangely) beautiful. With the trademark sound of blips, clicks, glitches and spaced out piano, they’ve proven for the last time what it means to wear headphones when listening to music, because there is so much detail and space for each sound that it creates an intense listening atmosphere. It completes a wonderful collection of exploration and shouldn’t be looked over. In fact, dare I mention it as a great introduction to the team as well?
Flumina is the 2nd effort between Sakamoto & Fennesz, and continues to raise the bar where Cendre had left it. There is something very gentle that is deeply ingrained in these two’s collaborations. Every moment in every song, there is this fragility that seeps out of their compositions that I can’t help but to lap up. The songs feel familiar and warm, as they remind me of myself and who I really am when I’m stripped away from the rest of the world. I’m just as shy and wild as the songs, and Flumina flows outwardly in a sonic form of me – or as a soundtrack of my life as it is and the future that beckons me.
…the spacious ambience and piano swirls engulf me and wash me ashore on a distant desert.
Please, if you love music at all, you’ll give these a listen. And to make it easy on you, I’d start with Flumina: it’s a great introduction.