Playing The Piano - Ryuichi Sakamoto


Film music is de rigueur and Ryuichi Sakamoto has written some of the best modern examples like the Oscar and Grammy-winning soundtrack to The Last Emperor, the Golden Globe- winner, The Sheltering Sky and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. His latest 2-CD package Playing The Piano showcases some of his favorite cinematic score moments on Disc 1, performed foreshortened and interpretively on solo piano, appropriately the musicians’ fundamental tool for composition. The Tokyo-born artist enjoys the challenges involved with scoring motion pictures. In his words, “…the odd demands of a film score force you think outside your usual comfort zone.” Adopting a more expansive life view translates into his current attitudes as a citizen of the world. “I felt really scared in the 90s thinking our children’s future” He explains. It’s the primary reason he has devoted much time and attention to environmental concerns recently, turning Ego in Eco as he puts it. His international tour coinciding with the release of Playing The Piano promotes a growing trend among enviro-conscious artists on the road; sustainable and ecologically sound touring. Sakamoto is also revered among fans of glitch electronica. Disc 2 of Playing The Piano is a copy of another ambitious project called ‘out of noise’ which is definitely the more interesting listen of the two. Once again, the environmentalist informs the composer, bringing Sakamoto to Greenland to record the ambiance of the glacial ice, the Arctic Ocean and the prevailing northern winds. These natural backgrounds become canvases for some serious electronic experimentation. Sakamoto expertly balances organic and artificial elements at the tipping point between noise and music. Composing with the planet’s own groans and whispers gives an entirely meaning to the tired term ‘world music’.