Playing the Piano

Playing the Piano

by Ryuichi SakamotoRyuichi Sakamoto


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In 2009, Universal International released Ryuichi Sakamoto's Playing the Piano, a collection of solo piano pieces he calls "self-covers"; that is, a newly recorded collection of his own compositons and themes performed solo. The set contains 12 selections. They are mostly themes from the films The Last Emperor, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and The Sheltering Sky, with cues from others including "Bolerish," from Brian DePalma's 2002 film Femme Fatale. For the most part, it is a spare and lovely beauty of an album, with few surpises save for the elegance that Sakamoto performs these indelible pieces with. In 2010, Decca Records in the U.S. re-relased this album as a deluxe edition with a new one entitled Out of Noise, recorded during 2009. It, too, contains a dozen selections, all but one composed and recorded the year of release. This disc is the real surpise in the specially packaged and priced set. It concerns itself where music fades and enters into noise, and the no man's land where noise sorts itself out into a system recognized as music. Unlike Playing the Piano, Out of Noise is a more challenging, yet more compelling listen. While it begins with the poetic, atmospheric solo piano piece "Hibari," as a coda to Disc 1, it quickly launches into "Hwit" and "Still Life," both recorded with the U.K.-based viol ensemble Fretwork. The ambient "In the Red," with field-recorded voice samples, features guitarist Christian Fennesz. In 2008, Sakamoto participated in the Cape Farewell Disko Bay Expedition to study and observe climate change; there he visited Greenland's fastest moving glacier. Three of the pieces here -- "Disko," "Ice," and "Glacier" -- reflect the place where Sakamoto claims he left part of his soul. In them, the sounds of the glaicer and the surrounding landscape were recorded, then treated in the studio and added to by other musicians, including guitarist Keigo Oyamada, vocalist Karen H. Filskov, and Skúlli Sverrisson, who plays dobro on the final one of these. "To Standford" is a solo jazz piano piece, or rather has inside its grain, the beauty and ternderness of great jazz pianists from Bill Evans to Errol Garner to Kenny Drew. Ultimately, it's Out of Noise that makes the entire package worth buying for the first time, or purchasing Playing the Piano again. Despite revealing already known dimensions of Sakamoto's musical persona, it also uncovers new ones.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/28/2010
Label: Decca
UPC: 0602527466323
catalogNumber: 001466272
Rank: 18546

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ryuichi Sakamoto   Primary Artist,Piano,Keyboards,electronics
Skúli Sverrisson   Dobro
Tamami Touno   Viol,Sho
Christian Fennesz   Guitar
Keigo Oyamada   Guitar
Dana Leong   Trombone,Cello
Rob Moose   Violin
Ren Takada   Pedal Steel Guitar
Hirotaka "Shimmy" Shimizu   Guitar
Karen H. Filskov   Vocals

Technical Credits

Fernando Aponte   Engineer,Engineering
Jay Cooper   Legal Counsel
Ryuichi Sakamoto   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes
Skúli Sverrisson   Composer
Yoshifumi Iio   Engineer
Hideki Nakajima   Art Direction
Diego Cortez   Liner Notes
Jake Jackson   Engineer
Nicholas Parker   Engineer
Rafaela Hernández   Label Consultant
Tamami Touno   Composer
Toyoaki Mishima   Engineer
Keigo Oyamada   Composer
Rob Moose   Composer
Ren Takada   Composer,Engineer
Mitsuru Shibamoto   Engineer
Tina Pelikan   Label Consultant
Takuo Morikawa   Legal Advisor
John Schaefer   Liner Notes
Doreen D'Agostino   Public Relations
Sarah Humphries   Label Consultant
Ryo Nukui   Engineer
James Troniainen   Label Consultant
Kotringo   Composer
Hiyomin Kang   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Playing the Piano / Out of Noise 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ShawnSorensen43 More than 1 year ago
Sakamoto continues to impress with the sheer variety of musical genres he's worked in and his sophisticated/elevated sense of style and songwriting. Here he plays some of his favorite songs on invigorated piano-only versions (like from soundtracks he did for The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence movies) and records subtle, poignant instrumental music mixing in underwater sounds from his trip to the Arctic Sea in "Out of Noise". Fans of his work on "BTTB" and with Alva Noto will love both discs. Fans of instrumental ambient music in general have got to check out "Playing the Piano/Out of Noise", a generous contribution.