Play­ing the Pi­ano/Out of Noise (Decca)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Ryuichi Sakamoto, a pi­o­neer­ing com­poser in elec­tronic mu­sic, founded the techno-pop group Yel­low Magic Or­ches­tra in 1978. He has recorded a few dozen al­bums of his own and played on nearly 10 CDs by David Syl­vian, also work­ing over the years with David Byrne, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Alva Noto.

Play­ing the Pi­ano, the first of this two-disc set, holds a dozen solop­i­ano self-cov­ers of Sakamoto’s ear­lier works. Much of the mu­sic is clear, peace­ful, and placid, al­though on “Riot in La­gos,” Sakamoto is more stri­dent and dra­matic. “Ti­betan Dance” is del­i­cate and bril­liant, with a strong rhyth­mic el­e­ment. The evoca­tive “Merry Christ­mas, Mr. Lawrence” is a theme from the film of the same name; Sakamoto also scored Women With­out Men, Lit­tle Bud­dha, High Heels, and many other

movies. The sec­ond CD, Out of Noise, is orig­i­nal, more ex­per­i­men­tal mu­sic. Sakamoto here pur­sues his long fas­ci­na­tion with the line be­tween mu­sic and noise. “Fire­wa­ter,” for ex­am­ple, of­fers a bar­rage of sound/noise, sort of a mul­ti­hued roar. “Disko,” “Ice,” and “Glacier” in­cor­po­rate am­bi­ent sounds Sakamoto recorded un­der the sur­face of the Arc­tic Sea and on a glacier in Green­land. Col­lab­o­rat­ing artists in­clude Karen H. Fil­skov pro­vid­ing vo­cals; Keigo Oya­mada on gui­tar; and Skúli Sver­ris­son on do­bro. The closers are two solo-pi­ano pieces, one grand and clas­si­cal and the last al­most purely per­cus­sive. This pack­age, over­all, is com­pelling and of­ten mes­mer­iz­ing. — Paul Wei­de­man

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