Ryuichi Sakamoto
Async


5.0
classic

Review

by Aaron W. STAFF
April 28th, 2017 | 214 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No need for a date: I was, I am, and I will be.

Async is the soundtrack to many things. It is the soundtrack to a Tarkovsky film that doesn’t exist, as well a record that will be ruled by the narrative of recovery, mortality and identity. His first solo record since 2009’s Out of Noise, Async finds Ryuichi Sakamoto three years removed from a life-threatening throat cancer diagnosis (now in remission) and with an increasingly contemplative view on his own mortality in light of the passing of his contemporary David Bowie and the fear that Async could’ve been his final work. In his most vulnerable moments, Sakamoto sought solace in the little things, such as the mundanities of everyday life, the sounds of the city and of his own musical instruments – doing all of this as if he would die that very moment, and caught numerous vignettes throughout his latest album.

Following the ethos of his latter-day projects, Async captures Sakamoto both at his most simplistic and off the wall, contrasting greatly in moments that fit perfectly into Async’s blueprint – the solemn “Andata”, accompanied by long-time collaborator Christian Fennesz, builds upon a basic classical dirge before becoming immersed in ethereal digital effects and Fennesz’ trademark hazy guitar, which takes the lead from Sakamoto’s piano rather than merely accompanying it; pieces such as “Zure”, “Stakra”, “Fullmoon” and “Life, Life” all harken back, in a way, to earlier works that had roots in more electronic-based modern classical and the synthesized pieces that Sakamoto once created. These songs, however, extend beyond this influence and diverge into various routes. Whereas “Zure” implemented minimalistic repetition and a stark soundscape, “Life, Life” features David Sylvian reciting poet Arseny Tarkovsky amidst a subtly lush instrumental accompaniment that drives home the idea of Async being an album that captures its creator being very aware of life’s finiteness in the verse:

“On each wave is a star, a person, a bird, Dreams, reality, death – on wave after wave”

And with pieces such as “Solari”, “Ubi” and “Garden”, Async becomes further sobering than any other effort Sakamoto has put forth in his illustrious career so far. Async doesn’t pussyfoot around the severity of what its creator experienced, nor does it try to act as if nothing had happened in the first place. At the risk of forcing a narrative of a recovering artist upon Sakamoto, Async paints an aural portrait of Sakamoto facing the transience of life and what is left of his own lifetime no matter how long it may or may not be. It pictures a man grasping onto whatever is left of his life and cherishing it, no matter how fragile it may now be, and for that, Async allows the listener to think about their own life – about their own eventual passing onto whatever comes next; about the faint hold we all have on our destiny, a concept so far out of our control, and of how we lead our lives from day to day. Despite some minor flaws intruding in between moments of slightly distorted bliss and intentionally mundane segments of obscured experimentalism, Async is the soundtrack to a life that isn’t without its struggles, but isn’t without the determination to make each second count.



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user ratings (100)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'd like to take this moment to say the oft-repeated sentiment: "fuck cancer".



Async is streaming here: http://exclaim.ca/music/article/ryuichi_sakamoto-async_album_stream

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

congrats sachiel (on the hundredth account most likely)



edit: and yet another sach alt deleted

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2017


25093 Comments


you're ballin

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hunnid blurbs, mounds of hyperbole

Hurricanslash
April 28th 2017


1830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Huh, I just bought his album Beauty a few weeks ago and now he has something new out. Probably might check this. Sounds nice.

butcherboy
April 28th 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is great.. Would pos if I could

Sinternet
April 28th 2017


21116 Comments


great review gotta check this out

Digging: Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Det Onda. Det Goda. Det Vackra. Det Fula.

DoofusWainwright
April 28th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm on it once I've stopped hating the new Mew album

granitenotebook
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2017


970 Comments


good review, got me listening. enjoying this so far, a lot more experimental than I expected

TwigTW
April 28th 2017


3825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't realize he'd been so sick. Glad to hear he's in remission . . . He's one of the few artists whose work gets more interesting as he gets older, and this is no exception. Very nice write-up, Fripp.

zaruyache
April 28th 2017


21659 Comments


I think he was supposed to be on my todo list before. Either way, this is on the shortlist.

Digging: Blue Noise - Everyone Goes Away Eventually

butcherboy
April 28th 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's also your 100th review, so mazel tov!

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
April 28th 2017


16378 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I liked this, wish it hadn't leaked a million years ago though so I could be not bored with it already =(

anatelier
April 28th 2017


2951 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

looking forward to getting on this one, good review matey potatey

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
April 28th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

kinda didn't leak since it came out officially in Japan in March, but it really grew on me after initially being pretty decent

Pho3nix
April 28th 2017


741 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the review! really loved his work on The Revenant soundtrack, will def check this out.

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
April 29th 2017


2772 Comments


dude niiiiice

Digging: Burial - Tunes 2011 to 2019

Pho3nix
April 29th 2017


741 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"honj" is definitely the highlight here

TVC15
April 29th 2017


10261 Comments


Ooh

Digging: Medicine - 5ive [Come Here to Drink Milk]

Zeta
April 30th 2017


77 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

completed the bar graph hehe. a middle finger to cancer!



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