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Ryuichi Sakamoto and Decca

Posted in: News ♦ Thursday, August 26th, 2010, 2:19 pm ♦ 7 Comments
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Decca

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO
RELEASES SPECIAL NEW 2-CD PACKAGE
September 28th, 2010

ECO-CONSCIOUS, RARE U.S.TOUR FOLLOWS IN OCTOBER

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s legions of fans will have a new special 2-CD package to savor on September 28th (Decca): the two albums, playing the piano and out of noise, present a wide-ranging view into the world of this composer, musician, producer, actor, and environmental activist. Ryuichi Sakamoto will make a rare North American solo tour in October/November, bringing his music to audiences through sustainable and ecologically sound touring. In addition, a carbon offset will be made for all carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the tour.

The first CD, playing the piano, is a series of miniatures or “self-covers,” as Sakamoto refers to them – solo piano versions of his earlier works, including some of the famous film themes such as The Last Emperor (Oscar/Grammy ® –winning soundtrack), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Sheltering Sky (Golden Globe – best original score).

The second CD, out of noise, is arguably Sakamoto’s most ambitious to date in which he continues to explore the netherworld between music and noise that has fascinated him for years. He is joined here by, among others, Austrian guitarist/laptop artist Christian Fennesz, guitarist Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada), England’s renowned early music group Fretwork, and Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Skuli Sverrisson. Read More…

Sakamoto has devoted much of his time in recent years to environmental concerns – to turning Ego into Eco as he puts it. Beginning in 2001, he has made a huge attempt to use alternative energy for touring.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
DATE CITY VENUE SHOWTIME TICKET PRICE
Sun-Oct-17-10 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre 8:00 PM $25, $29.50, $35
Mon-Oct-18-10 New York, NY Skirball Center for Performing Arts 8:00 PM $40
Wed-Oct-20-10 Boston, MA Berklee Performance Center 8:00 PM $26, $36
Fri-Oct-22-10 Montreal, QC Outrement Theatre 8:00 PM $28.50, $35
Sun-Oct-24-10 Toronto, ON Queen Elizabeth Theater 8:00 PM $39.50
Tues-Oct-26-10 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre 8:00 PM $45
Sat-Oct-30-10 Seattle, WA Moore Theatre 8:00 PM $29.50
Mon-Nov-01-10 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre 7:30 PM $31.50
Wed-Nov-03-10 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom 9:00 PM $30, $37.50
Fri-Nov-05-10 Los Angeles, CA El Ray 9:00 PM $40

For further information:
Doreen D’Agostino
doreendagostino@earthlink.net 646-829-0652 – 917-916-2626

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s legions of fans will have a new special 2-CD package to savor on September 28th (Decca Label Group): the two albums, playing the piano and out of noise, present a wide-ranging view into the world of this composer, musician, producer, actor, and environmental activist. Ryuichi Sakamoto will make a rare North American solo tour in October/November, bringing his music to audiences through sustainable and ecologically sound touring. In addition, a carbon offset will be made for all carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the tour.

Sakamoto is best known for the scores to the films Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, High Heels, Little Buddha, Love is the Devil, Women without Men, and dozens more. He is also known as one of the founding fathers of electronic music, having been a part of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, formed in 1978, and he is still a major influence in the worlds of techno and ambient music.

The first CD, playing the piano, is a series of miniatures or “self-covers,” as Sakamoto refers to them – solo piano versions of his earlier works, including some of the famous film themes such as The Last Emperor (Oscar/Grammy®–winning soundtrack), Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Sheltering Sky (Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score).

The second CD, out of noise, is arguably Sakamoto’s most ambitious album to date in which he continues to explore the ambiguities between music and noise that have fascinated him for years. It is nothing less than a summing up of his sonic interests, from medieval European instruments to hi-tech electronics to the sounds of the besieged glaciers of the Arctic Circle. “As soon as you make a piano sound, it begins to vanish,” Sakamoto explains, “vanishing into noise. You can’t tell when it becomes noise, when it’s gone. That’s the area I’m interested in.” Sakamoto has studied these dichotomies for years, especially in his landmark works with Alva Noto, which blazed a trail for the style now known as glitch electronica. In out of noise, his explorations extend even further – to the sounds of the environment. “We are surrounded by the sound of the environment,” he explains. “That’s music too, really.”

In making out of noise, Sakamoto went to Greenland with the Cape Farewell Project, as part of their cultural response to climate change. He recorded under the surface of the water of the Arctic Sea, and on the surface of the glacial ice. These sounds haunt the aural landscape of out of noise – a landscape peopled by, among others, Austrian guitarist/laptop artist Christian Fennesz, guitarist Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada), England’s renowned early music group Fretwork, and Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Skuli Sverrisson.

There was even more to the experience than he had anticipated… “The local Inuit told us their folklore,” he recalls. “According to legend the highest goddess lives under the deep sea. When I recorded the sound of the wind on the glacier, it was like I was hearing the voice of the goddess.” Sakamoto found it a hard project to leave: “I felt a strong nostalgia, as if I left my soul on that glacier.”

If Ryuichi Sakamoto had been born in 16th century Italy, we’d know what to call him: a Renaissance Man. But since he was born in Japan in the mid-20th century, we have to string together words like composer, musician, producer, actor, and environmental activist. It’s a diverse résumé, but there are two things that match it: one is Sakamoto’s music – pioneering electronic works, globally-inspired rock, classical scores (including a massive opera) and of course those familiar soundtracks. The other is the list of awards on his mantle – among them an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a Grammy, the Order of the Cavaleiro Admissão from the government of Brazil, The Silver Lion award (Venice Film Festival) and, in July 2009, he was named an Officier of the coveted Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the government of France. Perhaps most prized of all, was the UN Environment Programme’s Echo Award, for his innovative and groundbreaking work in eco-friendly touring and music distribution.

Though born in Tokyo, Sakamoto has been a true citizen of the world. He has written music inspired by the traditions of Okinawa, Indonesia, and Brazil; has reinterpreted the songs of Brazil’s late songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim as a kind of world/chamber music; and has collaborated with David Bowie, David Sylvian, dramatist Robert Wilson, author William S Burroughs, the Three Tenors’ Jose Carreras, and His Holiness The Dalai Lama, among many others. He has written music for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and for the 400th anniversary of the city of Mannheim, Germany.

As a child Sakamoto fell under the spell of English rock – the first record he ever bought: was “Tell Me” by the Rolling Stones – and then French Impressionism. “Debussy was my hero,” he says, and acknowledges that echoes of his teenage idol can still be heard in his new piano disc. “Asian music heavily influenced Debussy, and Debussy heavily influenced me. So the music goes around the world and comes full circle.” playing the piano does indeed come full circle, offering a new, reflective take on some of Sakamoto’s “greatest hits.” His best-known film scores began life at the piano, so these versions are very close to the way Sakamoto himself first heard them. Songs like “Thousand Knives” and “Riot In Lagos,” on the other hand, are dramatically different from their original electronic selves.

Being a citizen of the world means more than just hopping from studio to studio working with an international cast of musicians. Sakamoto has devoted much of his time in recent years to environmental concerns – to turning Ego into Eco, as he puts it. “I felt really scared in the 90s thinking about our children’s future. I imagined my youngest son at my age, and wondered what the world would be like then. That was scary!” And so Sakamoto, who is somewhat reserved by nature, found a way to turn his fame into something useful. He began assembling various colleagues to work first on the Zero Landmines project; and then, faced with the enormity of the global threats to the environment, he hit upon a simple idea: moreTrees. Protecting existing forests and planting new ones could strike a natural way of balancing human carbon emissions. “A simple idea, but difficult to do!” he says ruefully. Still, within a year, his moreTrees foundation had a lease on two forests in Japan, and a third on the northern island of Hokkaido followed last year. Now, a fourth forest in the Philippines is being added. moreTrees leases the land for 50 or 60 years, planting seedlings and maintaining the forests, and offering carbon offset credits to corporations and individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Sakamoto has been constantly pushing towards sustainability, with the tour, “Playing the Piano 2009”, he chose sustainable and ecologically sound ways to tour; Sakamoto used green electricity at each performance, and all carbon dioxide emitted through the tour was offset. The carbon offset is made by means of the cultivation of forests promoted by his environmental protection organization, moreTrees, founded in 2007. www.more-trees.org

The inspiration of nature in his music, as well as his efforts to tour in an eco-conscious manner, was honored with the Echo Award for The Most Innovative Musician and Musical Tour 2009 at the United Nations Environment Programme¹s Echo Festival in conjunction with World Environment Day at the Royal Park in Brussels. Sakamoto continues to find new innovative ways of being more green through his music activity and creativity. moreTrees is clearly a long-term commitment, one that Ryuichi Sakamoto hopes to pass on to the next generation. And that is not all he’s hoping to leave behind.
In 2006, at a time when the record business was hitting the steepest part of its current decline, he bucked the odds and launched an independent, eco-friendly record label called commmons (the middle m, he says, stands for music) in collaboration with Avex Entertainment. Concerned that musicians were unable to make a living from recordings and that valuable work was being lost, Sakamoto began a two-pronged recording approach. First, he began looking for interesting artists, and found a funny thing happening. “As people get older, normally their ears close to new sounds. My ears get more open as I get older. There are always young talents – artists, bands, DJs – and I hear something surprising, an unexpected sound or noise, every day.”
Among the artists Sakamoto has signed to commmons are the veteran noise-rock band Boredoms, their all-female offshoot OOIOO, and the latest release from American “post-rock” pioneers Tortoise. An even bigger part of commmons, though, is the project known as Schola. Sakamoto describes it as a 30-volume musical encyclopedia. Fifteen volumes will be devoted to Western music, from medieval to modern, and the other fifteen will be devoted to non-Western traditions. By licensing some of the finest existing recordings (some of them not currently in print), and producing each volume as a book with a CD, he hopes to offer a panoramic survey of the world’s music. “Again, the main reason I started it is for the next generations. Music becomes information; it’s on the internet, all flat, spread out on a huge plain. It’s hard for them to pick out the good music. And I want to say, listen to this – it’s worth it.”
And what about the current generation? For us, there is a Ryuichi Sakamoto discography that is unparalleled in its diversity and quality; a discography with the notable addition of playing the piano and out of noise.

For further information please contact:

Doreen D’Agostino
646.829.0653
917.916.2626
doreendagostino@earthlink.net

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