June 3, 2019
Alex Bainter presents: Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto
Today we're listening to a series of collaborations from Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and German musician Alva Noto. Sakamoto was a founding member and keyboardist for Yellow Magic Orchestra, an internationally acclaimed trio which pioneered electronic music starting in the late 70s. Alva Noto is a pseudonym used by Carsten Nicolai who is most known for producing electronic, minimal, and experimental glitch music. The two have collaborated on a variety of projects, including a recording of a 2016 performance at Philip Johnson's Glass House titled Glass, the soundtrack for Alejandro Iñárritu's 2015 film The Revenant, and five albums collectively known as the Virus Series. The Virus albums (Vrioon, Insen, Revep, Utp_, and Summvs) are mostly comprised of piano and other instrument work by Sakamoto, which has been processed, edited, and mixed with minimalist electronic sounds by Alva Noto. The result is shockingly beautiful and ranges from haunting, to melancholic, to strangely uplifting. Sakamoto's piano provides a consistent thread to carry the listener through sounds and treatments from Alva Noto which are often felt physically more than they are heard (headphones are almost required). What I treasure most about these albums is they are unlike anything I've heard before but still manage to be interesting and enjoyable, proving that "experimental" doesn't have to be a euphemism for "unlistenable."
Have a really good day today.