Boomkat Product Review:
Back once again and lovingly remastered, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's second collaboration - originally released in 2005 - still sounds just as icy, calm and deceptively melancholy as it did almost two decades ago. Includes an exclusive previously unreleased track on the vinyl version.
Carsten Nicolai started his collaboration with Sakamoto after the two met in Tokyo following Nicolai's first Japanese tour. A year later, the German minimalist was asked to rework Sakamoto's piano recordings for a compilation assembled by Japanese magazine Code Unfinished. The duo's chemistry was immediate, and this initial project kickstarted two years of musical back-and-forth that resulted in "Vrioon", their 2002-released debut. "Insen" appeared three years later, and was developed as the duo attempted to turn an isolated compositional process into a functional and unpredictable live performance.
The material here is broadly similar to their debut; Sakamoto performs on piano and plays in a style we've come to expect: sustained chords breathe into tiny flourishes that straddle European and Japanese musical traditions. Nicolai meanwhile is markedly restrained, backing Sakamoto with his signature rhythms, but chopping and editing more than adding too many additional sounds. The music is directed mostly by Sakamoto's glacial piano performance, that hands Nicolai's often emotionless digitalism a sorely-needed beating heart.
For anyone who's already familiar with the material, the new Calyx Studio master sounds great, and the inclusion of 'Barco' on the vinyl edition makes it an essential purchase for completists.