Boomkat Product Review:
Originally released in 2007, 'Cendre' was the second collaboration between Austrian sound artist Christian Fennesz and Japanese legend Ryuichi Sakamoto. Fourteen years later, it still sounds icy, delicate and striking in its cool, calm elegance.
The album was recorded between 2004 and 2006; Fennesz on guitar and laptop in Vienna, Sakamoto on piano and laptop in New York City. The duo sent recordings back and forth, with one artist drafting a starting point and the other working over the top, developing themes as songs emerged from the aether. When the album became a reality, the duo met in person to work on the final mix. This process is more common now (especially after 2020), but at the time felt faintly novel - their relative detachment imbues the record with a sculpted feeling that focuses the delicacy of Sakamoto's playing into Fennesz's restraint.
While Fennesz usually tends to focus on the interplay between dynamics (loud and quiet, clean and distorted), there's a subtlety to 'Cendre' that feels respectful to Sakamoto's light touch; the washing ambience of 'Haru' and 'Amorph' and the gaseous noise of 'Trace' and 'Kuni' afford Sakamoto's playing pride of place. The result is a collection of ambient lullabies that have been heavily imitated over the last 14 years, but rarely matched.