May 23, 2024

New album Ryuichi Sakamoto ’12’ out now, a sonic battle with cancer

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The cult Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto is back with all new album, “12”, via Milan Records. The 12 compositions were recorded by Ryuichi Sakamoto in Tokyo during his 2-year long fight with cancer throughout 2021-2022. The album, his 15th so far, is the first of new solo material since 2017. The album’s twelve tracks are titled and sequenced by the dates each were written, culminating in a diary-like collection of music that provides an intimate snapshot into this period of Sakamoto’s life.

As a result you get this tracklist:

  1. 20210310
  2. 20211130
  3. 20211201
  4. 20220123
  5. 20220202
  6. 20220207
  7. 20220214
  8. 20220302 – sarabande
  9. 20220302
  10. 20220307
  11. 20220404
  12. 20220304

Of the album, Sakamoto says: “In early March 2021, I finally “came home” to my new temporary housing after a big operation and a long stay in the hospital. Around the end of March, just as my body was feeling a little lighter, I found myself reaching for the synthesizer. I had no intention of composing something, I just wanted to be showered in sound. I just had a feeling that it’ll have a small healing effect on my damaged body and soul. Up until then, I barely had the energy to listen to music, let alone play anything. But after that day, I began to occasionally touch the keys of the synthesizer and piano and I began to record little sketches of sounds as if to write a diary. I tried choosing 12 of my favorite sketches for this album. There are no adornments—I’m intentionally putting them out as is. From now on, until my body gives out, I’ll probably continue to keep this kind of “diary”.”

Based in Tokyo and New York he started out as a member of the legendary japanese electronic music trio YMO (Yellow Magic Orchestra). As a film composer he debuted with the excellent “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” (1983) both as a musician and as an actor (vs David Bowie). The main theme was adapted into the single “Forbidden Colours” which became an international hit (with vocals by David Sylvian). His most successful work as a film composer was “The Last Emperor” (1987), after which he continued earning accolades composing for films such as “The Sheltering Sky” (1990), “Little Buddha” (1993), and “The Revenant” (2015).

In advance of the album’s release, Sakamoto recently debuted a special solo piano concert that was streamed online to an audience of over 60,000 viewers across the globe. His first live performance in two years, the concert was recorded over the course of a week at Tokyo’s legendary 509 Studio and features an hour of the composer playing new arrangements both spanning his repertoire and from his new album.

Check “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” from the live streaming “Ryuichi Sakamoto: Playing the Piano 2022” from Sunday, December 11, 2022. Welcome back Ryuichi Sakamoto!

author avatar
Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

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