Ryuichi Sakamoto and Kazumi Watanabe early session works. Compilation of tracks from the albums "Thousand Knives" (1978), "Kylyn" (1979), "Kylyn Live" (1979) and the track "Tokyo Joe" which appeared on a various artists anthology "Tokyo-Paris-London-New York, Dancing Night" (1982, track recorded 1979).
Ex-Talking Head David Byrne and actor/composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (who co-starred in the film) each get a side of this beautiful score to Bernardo Bertolucci's Academy Award-winning film, and each took home Oscars and Grammys for their efforts.
Ryuichi Sakamoto's first solo album appeared before he formed Yellow Magic Orchestra in late 1978, after the young keyboardist had earned his M.A. in music from Tokyo University. Six long instrumentals make up this CD, but apart from a taste for Asian-sounding synth lines, they hint at very little of what was to come in YMO. "Thousand Knives" is a long disco-lite jazzy workout with a very un-synthesized guitar solo by Kazumi Watanabe (who would later join YMO on tour and have his solo album produced by Sakamoto). Side two's "Da Neue Japanische Electronische Volkslied" and "The End of Asia" (later revamped in YMO) are closest to the new wave of Japanese electronic music that he would spawn. "Island of Woods" and "Grasshoppers" trade in rhythm for sound landscapes, and the sort of cheeriness that would pop up later in Sakamoto's childrens movie scores. Harry Hosono turns up on one track, and generally the album is a pleasant, if unadventurous, listen.
Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of the pioneering figures of Japanese electronic music, demonstrates his versatility on this change-of-pace album. Released in 2004, 04 is dominated by Sakamoto's prowess on the acoustic piano, and features excerpts from several of his scores for motion pictures (including his music for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence), television commercials (such as a campaign for Louis Vuitton), and video games.
Sakamoto's all-star blend of Western and Eastern music styles is a triumphant success for the composer, and a consistently good listen. On the title track he takes a traditional Japanese folk song and blends it into a funk groove provided by Bootsy Collins, Bill Laswell, and Sly Dunbar. Unlike Byrne and Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, this blend of cultures is coming from the opposing angle and stays truer to the source material. But that track is only one of Sakamoto's approaches, and on several other tracks he joins with Laswell to create a crisp, techno-cultural hybrid that sounds like nothing except like pure Sakamoto. On "Risky," a subdued Iggy Pop lends vocals and lyrics, and doesn't come across as an interloper. And on "Okinawa Song," Sakamoto seamlessly integrates the southern island culture into his grand scheme.
"Bricolage," a French word meaning to assemble something from available materials, is such a perfect term for the art of the remix that it's surprising no one has ever used it before. It's less surprising that Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose work has always had a cool Continental flair despite the artist's Japanese roots, would choose such an elegant term for his swish remix collection. Focusing on reworks of material from 2005's back-to-the-roots electro-pop experiment Chasm, Bricolages features a cross-cultural and cross-generational batch of remixers including Cornelius, whose playful sense of pastiche is to current hipster Japanese pop what Sakamoto's Yellow Magic Orchestra was a quarter-century before; his take on the spoken word cut-up "War & Peace" is considerably lighter and groovier than Aoki Takamasa's tense, austere version.
Sweet Revenge is an amazingly sophisticated album in which Sakamoto sets the distinctive and heart-rending chordal and harmonic ideas of his soundtrack work to trip-hop and neo-bossa-nova beats. The songs are fronted by a succession of guest vocalists who each contribute lyrics which add up to an amazingly coherent whole–a mature meditation on love, longing, conflict, revenge and regret. As usual, Sakamoto was ahead of his time. By spotlighting the deep poetry of J-ME and Latasha Natasha Diggs, this 1994 album anticipated by years the introspective hip-hop diva trend popularized by Lauryn Hill.