Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async Remodels

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:9 Release Date:2018-02-16
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async Remodels
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async Remodels

If you wandered why Ryuichi Sakamoto was absent from the music scene for more than eight years before he released the original version of the Async album last year, it had nothing to do with the usual artists “trying to find himself” explanations that PR men come up with to explain why a musician has been absent for so long from the scene. Sakamoto actually had to fight off a bout of throat cancer, which luckily he won. Unfortunately, a participant on Async Remodels, this remodeled version of the original album, Icelandic composer Johan Johannsson, did not win the battle he was fighting. His contribution to the Sakamoto album here being one of the last pieces he did.

But there’s much more to this album than rejoicing Sakamoto winning his life battle or just a sad memory of a gone collaborator, which Johannsson was, as were most of the other contributors here Alva Noto, Fennesz or Cornelius, a life-long admirer who took more than a few cues from Sakamoto.

Async Remodels escapes more than a few traps that remix, remodel (in effect, tribute) albums often suffer from. One is the uneven quality of the material that is rearranged or remixed, another is guest artists trying to stamp too much of their own identity on the material, and the third one is the incongruity of the offered interpretations that make such an album sound more like a ‘various artists’ compilation and not an album that has a musical thread of the artists whose original material is being covered running through it. None of that here.

First of all, Sakamoto’s original Async album contained strong enough material throughout, and then all the included artists struck a good balance between Sakamoto’s and their own identity to make Async Remodels sound exactly like it should - a re-imagined, remodeled Ryuichi Sakomoto album.

It is almost impossible to take a pick here - whether it is the introductory Oneohtrix Point Never interpretation of “andata”, the Electric Youth version of the same song that is a perfect homage to Sakmoto’s Yellow Magic Orchestra days, Motion Graphics version of “fullmoon”, as if it was seen through the eyes of the tango master Astor Piazzolla, Fennesz or Johannsson versions of “solari”, all of them.

In essence, what we get here is a vision of one artist through the eyes of others that shows both their reverence and their own personalities at the same time, and that through life’s events that followed it, serves as a reminder of Sakamoto’s personal victory but also the loss of Johannsson.

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