Easy Street Records

Review: Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - "SUMMVS"


Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto


By Jefferson

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The ongoing collaborative works by Ryuichi Sakamoto on grand piano and Raster-Noton label founder Carsten Nicolai have certainly been a highlight in this past decade of neo-classical and ambient music. So much so, that I'm not hesitant to recommended the series to even the curious/casual fan of the genre. The initial impression I had of this new (and stated final) collaboration between the two artists was at first listen, less impressive than their previous endeavors as ANRS. In particular, the bewilderingly gorgeous audio-visual experience that is UTP_ or their first collaborative work, Insen, which established their sound of sparse piano in a loosely modern classical/free jazz style, accompanied by pointilist digital electronic patterns. What happened with Summvs over prolonged and multiple listens though, was the compositions and dynamics opened up, revealing a work that is more like a blending of their independent solo works. The Sakamoto that comes most to mind as a point of reference is the double-edition of Playing the Piano/Out of Noise (as witnessed live in concert halls on last year's US tour). Add shades of Alva Noto's more textural, tonal ambiance heard on Xerrox Vol. 2, and together the result is a meeting of grand piano and electronic structures/punctuation that are sublime in their quiet complexity. Surprisingly rich and deep, this, of all their recordings, brings new rewards with each listen, and after many I'm finding it to be the highlight of all of their work to date. Which is saying quite a lot, considering the two composers in question.

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