Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto are responsible for one of my all time favourite pieces of music ‘Insen’. Like all good partnerships they compliment each other beautifully. Very different in styles and approach to music, when they come together the combination of their musical worlds combine to create music, which is nothing short of breath taking.
I was actually contemplating this morning, during a very boring training session, how if the only thing that could exist in my head was sound then the music that Noto & Sakamoto create would be pretty close to the perfect constant. In fact, I think my head would be a pretty wonderful place if the only thing I heard all day was their work.
Noto would probably be best described as a sound artist. It’s interesting to note that he originally studied architecture and landscape design, which lead to his fascination with the relationship between sound and space. His work is packed with rhythmn and structure and is clearly as perfectly designed as the finest building or piece of landscape architecture. His work is art. Highly intelligent and packed with influences from within and outwith the world of music. Though, at times, quite hard work, it is his skill with the manipulation of electronic sound that sets the perfect backdrop for the piano skills of Sakamoto.
When you listen to the work of these two men, it’s easy to imagine that it’s not hard to create something like this. Piano backed by electronic soundscapes. Simple. Right? Loads of people do it and do it well. True. But somehow, nobody seems to quite manage to do it as well as these two have over the course of 4 studio records since 2002.
But there is something very different about ‘Summvs’ in comparison to their previous work for on this occassion, Carsten Nicolai (Noto) seems to have developed a love of harmony and melody within his compositions. This results in something that is much warmer and welcoming both to the listener and the piano work of Sakamoto.
It really is a fascinating piece of work and possibly their most accomplished to date. Which makes it all the harder to hear that it is rumoured to be the last record in the set. And if it is to be their last then they could not have signed out on a more emphatic note. For me, ‘Insen’ will always remain their standout work but there is something wonderfully romantic about Sakamoto’s melodies taking more of a lead role on this finale. Apparently Sakamoto even used a rare piano (one of only fifteen in the world) using 16th interval tuning, which just adds to the romance of the whole thing.
Noto & Sakamoto have failed to let us down during their musical journey together. If you can, check out their work here and add their music to your collection do so. Then add it into your head as a constant. Wipe everything else clear and just live with their sound in there. It will be a perfect place to exist.