Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto

Andrei Cucu

Because serene Japanese detachment and highly technological German coldness sometimes give the most unexpected of results.

Ryuichi Sakamoto – the extremely versatile piano player brings miniature motifs, each asking a different question in a foreign language, forever floating above your conversation. His suspended chords almost never seek resolution, ever so rarely falling into an actual chord progression, but never failing to disintegrate back into the extremely innocuous, but also very enveloping mist. The small particles within his keys either manage to completely escape humability, or structure themselves around a very cinematic core,  a best example being Naono from 2011’s Summvs. What starts out as a a collection of dots quickly turns into an atmospheric breathing landscape worthy of the most impressive, dark blue, grey-ish still life shots imaginable, and then focuses on a small point on the endlessly zooming almost white wallpaper (it’s not like the cover didn’t give you pretty explicit hints about the album’s chromatic palette).

Alva Noto – label raster-noton’s leader and German experimental musician Carsten Nicolai first teamed up with Sakamoto in 2002 after meeting him on his Japan tour, and being asked to remix some of the pianist’s work. The result was the album Vrioon, which from the start shows the kind of approach he has for the collaborative project. His main tools are sine tones, and pure frequencies used to sew the piano fragments back together, and manage despite their completely neutral character to perfectly tie Sakamoto’s mist together. The only downside to the electronic part of the songs is that most of it requires a pretty decent playback system so you don’t miss the booming lows of something like Uoon I from Vrioon, or the squeaking almost eardrum piercing tones of their version of Brian Eno’s By this river from their last album together Summvs. He brings the twitchy effects and slight distortion to Sakamoto’s cold blues, and motionless landscapes, whether by accompanying his sweet droplets, or by completely dismembering them, as in Particle 1 from 2008’s UTP_.

And yet, the result is never impersonal. The songs’ flatness is never truly bi-dimensional. Each layer passes you by and reveals the infinite number of successors it has very slowly shifting their color hex-codes one symbol at a time, each new tone further completing your virtual happy place. It may be flat, but it truly is infinite.

Be careful or you might miss it.




Andrei CucuAlva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto

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