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Ryuichi Sakamoto|12

12

Ryuichi Sakamoto

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A genre unto itself, Ryuichi Sakamoto's music over the decades on synthesizer, piano, keyboard, as a member of synth-pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra and as a film composer contains multitudes. He's collaborated with titans nearly as towering as himself, but on 12, Sakamoto works achingly, sublimely alone in the studio. 


12—Sakamoto's first original (non-film score) album since 2017's async—finds the artist at his most meditative, which stands to reason. During 2021 and 2022, Sakamoto composed, played and recorded the pieces while undergoing treatment for cancer, which he has lived with for nearly a decade. The artist recalled the creative exercise in a brief statement, writing that "after I finally 'came home' to my new temporary housing after a big operation, I found myself reaching for the synthesizer. I had no intention of composing something; I just wanted to be showered in sound." 


Though async was composed after Sakamoto first learned of his cancer diagnosis, in 2017 his muse seemed to be in a more static-filled place. An oft-peaceful, occasionally tense series of a dozen pieces, each titled and sequenced according to the date Sakamoto composed it, 12 mixes reverberant piano melodies, which echo and sustain as if recorded at the edge of an abyss, with subtle but rich electroacoustic effects. Piano notes linger until they sound like a choir on "20211201," gently sustaining themselves until they merge with the collected hum of earlier notes. An Erik Satie-esque energy imbues both the phrases and the silence between them with a soothing, resolved beauty.


At times 12 is literally breathtaking. As the artist plays his instrument on "20220207" and others, the faint hiss of his inhalations and exhalations seeps into the recording, in effect tracking time not by meter or clock but through the body's natural pacing—the blessed state of living itself. Sakamoto has referred to 12 as a series of diary entries, which suggests a certain casualness. But the album is anything but. Rather, it's a self-portrait by an expert who can casually create masterpieces with a series of brilliantly executed brush strokes. © Randall Roberts/Qobuz

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12

Ryuichi Sakamoto

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1
20210310
00:06:53

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

2
20211130
00:05:22

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

3
20211201
00:05:32

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

4
20220123
00:08:40

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

5
20220202
00:06:22

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

6
20220207
00:07:01

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

7
20220214
00:09:09

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

8
20220302 - sarabande
00:03:10

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

9
20220302
00:02:52

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

10
20220307
00:02:31

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

11
20220404
00:02:26

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

12
20220304
00:01:08

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Composer, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer

(P) 2023 KAB America Inc. under exclusive license to Milan Records, a label of Sony Music Entertainment.

Album Description

A genre unto itself, Ryuichi Sakamoto's music over the decades on synthesizer, piano, keyboard, as a member of synth-pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra and as a film composer contains multitudes. He's collaborated with titans nearly as towering as himself, but on 12, Sakamoto works achingly, sublimely alone in the studio. 


12—Sakamoto's first original (non-film score) album since 2017's async—finds the artist at his most meditative, which stands to reason. During 2021 and 2022, Sakamoto composed, played and recorded the pieces while undergoing treatment for cancer, which he has lived with for nearly a decade. The artist recalled the creative exercise in a brief statement, writing that "after I finally 'came home' to my new temporary housing after a big operation, I found myself reaching for the synthesizer. I had no intention of composing something; I just wanted to be showered in sound." 


Though async was composed after Sakamoto first learned of his cancer diagnosis, in 2017 his muse seemed to be in a more static-filled place. An oft-peaceful, occasionally tense series of a dozen pieces, each titled and sequenced according to the date Sakamoto composed it, 12 mixes reverberant piano melodies, which echo and sustain as if recorded at the edge of an abyss, with subtle but rich electroacoustic effects. Piano notes linger until they sound like a choir on "20211201," gently sustaining themselves until they merge with the collected hum of earlier notes. An Erik Satie-esque energy imbues both the phrases and the silence between them with a soothing, resolved beauty.


At times 12 is literally breathtaking. As the artist plays his instrument on "20220207" and others, the faint hiss of his inhalations and exhalations seeps into the recording, in effect tracking time not by meter or clock but through the body's natural pacing—the blessed state of living itself. Sakamoto has referred to 12 as a series of diary entries, which suggests a certain casualness. But the album is anything but. Rather, it's a self-portrait by an expert who can casually create masterpieces with a series of brilliantly executed brush strokes. © Randall Roberts/Qobuz

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