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Ryuichi Sakamoto

As one-third of Yellow Magic Orchestra and an Academy Award-winning composer for his work on the soundtrack for The Last Emperor, synth pop innovator Ryuichi Sakamoto is among the most groundbreaking artists to have emerged since the late '70s. The driving force behind "Neo Geo," a cutting-edge fusion of Asian and Western classical music with other global textures and rhythms, he has been equally adept in electronic and acoustic settings, whether recording in solitude or in tandem, with decades of steady activity. His discography is immense and varied.

Born January 17, 1952, in Tokyo, Sakamoto took up piano at the age of three, and regularly performed in jazz bands while in high school. Exposed to everyone from the Beatles to Beethoven and John Cage, he was also heavily influenced by avant-garde filmmaking. He went on to study electronic music at Tokyo's University of Art, and after graduating formed Yellow Magic Orchestra with Yukihiro Takahashi and Haruomi Hosono. Informed by the robotic iconography of Kraftwerk, YMO became massive stars in their native Japan, where they regularly topped the Omicron chart. Their 1980 single, "Computer Game," reached the Top 20 in the U.K. and inspired old-school rap legends including Afrika Bambaataa.

While in YMO, Sakamoto also issued his first proper solo effort, 1978's Thousand Knives Of. Two years later, he returned with B-2 Unit, and the vast differences between the two discs gave a clear indication of the mercurial eclecticism that would define the remainder of his work. After YMO's 1983 breakup, Sakamoto pursued solo and collaborative work full-time, achieving his artistic and commercial breakthrough that same year with his acclaimed score for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, a film in which he also acted. The soundtrack marked one of several collaborations with David Sylvian, just one of Sakamoto's many intriguing musical unions. Other performers with whom he worked during the decade included Iggy Pop, Bootsy Collins, and Tony Williams. Most unexpected was a collaboration with Robert Wyatt and Brian Wilson, as heard on a cover of the Rolling Stones' "We Love You" recorded for 1989's Beauty.

Throughout the '90s and 2000s, Sakamoto's soundtrack discography continued to increase in size and significance. As he released eclectic and ambitious solo projects such as Heartbeat, Sweet Revenge, and the LIFE series, he produced a large amount of material for films, including Pedro Almodovar's High Heels, Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha, and Nagisa Oshima's Gohatto. Additionally, keeping up with Sakamoto's collaborative releases developed into a bit of a chore, albeit a rewarding and adventurous one. On Morelenbaum 2/Sakamoto: Casa, he reworked Antonio Carlos Jobim's music with cellist/arranger Jacques Morelenbaum and his wife, singer Paula Morelenbaum. Sakamoto's collaborative work with musicians such as Alva Noto, Taylor Deupree, and Christopher Willits, all partnerships that resulted in multiple full-length releases, were well-regarded in the fields of ambient and experimental electronic music. In 2009, he was particularly productive. He released the solo acoustic album Playing the Piano, the more experimental effort Out of Noise, and scored Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari's Silver Lion-winning Women Without Men. That year, he was named as an Officier du Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters) at the French Embassy in Tokyo. A de-nuclearization advocate, Sakamoto organized the NO NUKES 2012 festival, which included a reunited Yellow Magic Orchestra among the performers. Diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014, he responded well to treatment and continued to make music. Among his most notable recordings released after the diagnosis were the soundtracks for The Revenant and Nagasaki: Memories of My Son. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Three

1. Happy End

2. The Last Emperor

3. Bibo No Aozora Instrumental

4. High Heels

5. Ending Theme

6. A Flower Is Not A Flower

7. Still Life In A

8. Nostalgia

9. Tango Instrumental

10. Merry Christmas Mr.Lawrence

11. Harakiri (Death Of A Samurai) Endroll

12. Tamago 2004

13. Parolibre

x

Track List: Silk: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

2. Mill Theme

3. Love Theme

4. Trip To Egypt

5. First Trip To Japan

7. First Return

8. Second Trip To Japan

9. The Girl

10. Second Return

11. Love Theme

12. Sadness

13. Brothel

14. The Last Trip To Japan

15. Revolution

16. The Last Return

17. Building The Garden

18. Reminiscence

19. Helen

20. Sadness

x

Track List: Bricolages

1. War & Peace (Aoki Takamasa Remix)

2. Undercooled (Skull Sverrisson Remix)

3. War & Peace (Cornelius Remix)

4. 20 Msec (Fennesz Remix)

5. Undercooled (Alva Noto Remodel)

6. World Citizen (Taylor Deupree Remix)

7. Only Love Can Conquer Hate (Snd. Remix)

8. Seven Samurai (Richard Devine Remix)

9. Word (Rob Da Bank & Mr. Dan Remix)

10. 20 Msec (Craig Armstrong Remix)

11. NGO/Bitmix (Slicker Remix)

12. Break With (Steve Jansen Remix)

13. Motopiate (Thomas Knak Remix)

x

Track List: Chasm

1. Undercooled

2. Coro

3. War & Peace

4. Chasm

6. Only Love Can Conquer Hate

8. Break With

9. +Pantonal

11. 20 Msec.

12. Lamento

14. Seven Samurai - Ending Theme

Comments

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gobraghomagh
Where are his other albums? So limiting!!
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I love Beauty!
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Revenent is just Awesome.
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Loved his work with the Morelenbaums in 2000. Such a fresh take on movie music. This guy is someone to follow
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This song makes feeling stir inside. I could listen to this for hours
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I love this song! And truly LOVE this man!
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pamsinclair
Truly the most brilliant, soulful composer, artist, and performer I've ever heard. This song always moves me to feel very deeply for the gift of music and the beauty of life. Watching him perform this on youtube, you can see his incredible passion for his music like no one I have ever seen perform before.
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Sad , very sweetly sad like comfort in pain.
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For Years this Genius has been making Compelling Film Scores that adds deep to the scenes.
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I've never something so sad yet exciting
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If you have not heard Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence soundtrack you are really missing out on some of Ryuichi's greatest!
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life072882
a true master of Japanese folk-romanti c composition. Wuthering Heights is my favorite soundtrack of his; the most hauntingly beautiful and breathtaking soundtrack.
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You mean Tony Takitani, the sad film adapted from the Murakami story, yes?
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rubymoonj
I love Ryuichi Sakamoto...I would like to here the sound track from Toni Sakinani on this station. How do I go about that???
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found him when i heard ymo...smootc h y is a pretty cool RS album with a latin tinge
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cowniew
Sakamoto is a great artist. His work goes all the way back to the seventies. I have his album Beauty from 1990 and it's great. Also his work on Merry Xmas Mr. Lawrence in 1983. Both touched on in the bio. It's unfortunate that we can only hear some of his new millennium albums which are also excellent.
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montevideo.s a t e l i t e
Walking around Manhattan as a new immigrant discovered Sakamoto from the walls plastered with his Beauty album posters..
what a gift his music is...
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This is totally different!!
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I just discovered Ryuichi Sakamoto in Pandora. Wow, distinctly beautiful. Thank you Pandora!
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culturallyre s p o n s i v e s o l u t i o n s
I had to STOP everything when I first heard Riuichi. My heart felt drawn into the music, the sound; I was taken away . . . beautiful~
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This man is pretty much cooler than gak. Check out his work with yellow magic orchestra and he also did a remix of Some of David Torn's work from Splattercell . Good luck finding it though :P
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carolinaking
Amazing musician.
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jaymajumdar
Sakamoto is a genius. He is an amazing translator of emotion into music
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Cool music! :-)
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sandy.perkin s
I love this artist so much!!!!
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dbarri3
edge weighted contours, like side slipping with conte. so nice to draw to.
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he dont work in no bakery
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The soundtrack for "Tony Takitani" was excellent--l e t ' s see it added to Pandora.
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The makeup is from the center photo inside of the 1982 Right handed Dream cd which also had Adrian Belew on it fresh from working with David Bowie (the Merry Christmas/Na g i s a Oshima connection)a n d before his start with King Crimson,,,,, , , and Robin Scott which had the big hit "Pop Musik" at the time. There was a big interest in anything Japanese at the time IE Sushi,and they were trying to look as such. Ryuichi's style has changed many times and its been an interesting ride. We all loved his com
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Lol make up is odd, but the man is a musical genius I admit.
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What is with the make-up???
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masterduurk
Awesome composer, but why is he wearing that rediculous makeup? I will forever admire, and never understand those wacky Japanese!
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The Last Emperor is amazing. It really takes you to another world...
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I love his "merry christmas mr. lawrence"
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Very nice!
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really neat texture chill yet engaging at the same time
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ldilworth
Most excellent... n o t "typical"... h o l d s your interest while not becoming obnoxious or boring.
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Techno. Classical. Bossa Nova. Hip Hop. 'Noise' music. Soundtracks. Even an olympic theme in '84. CHECK THIS DUDE OUT !!!!!!
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its totally reminescent when im stressed and high!!!! i approve
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dragonmz2
He has a smooth quality to his music, it's relaxing.

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