AOTY: Ryuichi Sakamoto-async

Ryuichi Sakamotos’ career is a long and influential one. Over 40 years he has been either a driving force or at the forefront of many electronic music genre including techno, house, ambient, experimental and syth-pop. He’s also written classical music and composed for video games and films, winning him nominations and awards around the world. Async shows that he still has the ability to create personal artistic expressions that resonate with the audience.

The first solo album since his throat cancer diagnosis in 2014. Async clearly reflects the affect it has had on the composer. The minimal instrumentation on this album is often degrading either structurally or aesthetically, creating a constant development in the sound pallet. After several decades working with both electronic and classical composition he can blend the two flawlessly and without loosing the characteristics recognisable to his work.

Most tracks feature a single melody that will then be accompanied by sparse mixes of instrumentation and experimental sound design to enhance its mood. Although often somber and introspective, the music always has a restrained elegance. The emotions portrayed aren’t abrasive but reveal themselves slowly, They create a mood which you succumb to over each track’s play time; moods that stick with you long after the album finishes.

This album is never forceful or instructive. Subtlety is its strength. A masterwork in expressing Ryuici Sakamoto’s mood during its creation. Reflecting on his life and his previous works with his choice of instrumentation and composition. Async creates a strong connection between you the listener and the creator and by its conclusion you really feel like you understand his aims and feelings during its process of creation. Proof that there’s still new and interesting things to be said by a prolific and influential figure. Let’s hope it continues.

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