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12 ryuichi

Ryuichi Sakamoto – 12


Here we are having already closed the books on January, a month more tied to dearth than plenitude: dearth of sunlight, dearth of warmth, and somehow, usually, a dearth of halfway decent music, as the big consumption season of the holidays spends itself into a kind of productive dormancy. The year so far seems to be belying that notion, as an uncommon number of quality releases are being dug up from the frozen ground and passed around as sustenance through the hard months. The most conspicuous fruit of this early-year gleaning is also, paradoxically, among the most minimalist, and, to be frank, the most musically unremarkable, while still remaining one of its creator’s great artistic statements.

12 is easy to pigeonhole as a mere collection of etudes for piano and synthesizer, a soothing, lukewarm, ambient bath recalling the melancholic tranquility of Satie and Eno, always lovely, but sometimes minimalist to the point of being threadbare in execution. It takes a bit of a deeper reading of the thing for it to open up to the listener, a bit of reflection on what exactly this austere approach is revealing. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s 12 was recorded in the winter of last year, and its threadbare qualities often reflect that; the austerity of its titles, its art, and its music are, in a way, those of the bare clinging on and enduring that life can seem to be during this season. But of course, life endures, and its presence among all the crystalline sterility of the season is often startling, a stark silhouette against all the blankness of the background. That’s my big takeaway from 12, whatever it seems to be on the surface, that Sakamoto, by removing the extraneous, the manufactured, anything that takes one out of the immediate moment, is essentially selecting and distilling moments in time that he wishes to share with his audience.

Most anyone going into this album will be aware of Sakamoto’s ongoing battle with cancer, and while to bring up the fact is probably belaboring the point, it’s impossible to disentangle it from any serious assessment of this stage in his career. Sakamoto’s acknowledged it as something he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life. And while anyone with a pulse is going to hope that it’s going to be a long one, it’s also pretty clear that having to live with this godawful disease is going to be reflected somehow in their work. Life becomes precious when you’re faced its finitude. And I think that on 12, Sakamoto’s created something that reflects that rare, precious quality. Winter passes, life’s renewed, with or without us. But by creating something, we, in a way, get to decide what shape that renewal takes. – DadKungFu

Thanks Johnny for posting and DadKungFu for a beautiful writeup!

This is wonderfully written, massive props

i wasn't supposed to have dem feelz this early in the morning

yeah, this album was a rollercoaster

in the chillest way possible

great write, Jowell

Wow didn't think this was going to get posted, thanks y'all

It got lost in the shuffle, so there was an unintended delay, but it's finally up now!

Nice writeup

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