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Ryuichi Sakamoto

The driving force behind "Neo Geo" -- a cutting-edge fusion combining Asian and Western classical music with other global textures and rhythms -- pioneering electronic composer Ryuichi Sakamoto was among the most innovative artists to emerge during the 1980s. Born January 17, 1952, in Tokyo, he took up piano at the age of three, and regularly performed in jazz bands while in high school. Sakamoto's musical tastes exposed him to everyone from the Beatles to Beethoven and John Cage, and 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 the techno-pop trio Yellow Magic Orchestra. Informed by the robotic iconography of Kraftwerk, the YMO became massive stars in their native Japan; their 1980 single "Computer Game" even reached the Top 20 in Britain.

While still in the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Sakamoto also issued his first 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 the YMO's 1983 breakup, Sakamoto pursued his solo career full-time, achieving his artistic and commercial breakthrough that same year with his acclaimed score to the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (in which he also acted). The soundtrack also marked one of several collaborations between Sakamoto and David Sylvian, just one of his many intriguing musical unions; other performers with whom he worked included Thomas Dolby (on 1986's Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia), Iggy Pop, Bootsy Collins, Tony Williams (on 1988's Neo Geo), and David Byrne, with whom he co-wrote the Academy Award-winning score to the 1987 film The Last Emperor.

Other works of note include the score to Pedro Almodovar's High Heels and 1990's Beauty, Sakamoto's English-language debut, which featured cameos from Brian Wilson and Robbie Robertson. In 1993, he joined a reunited Yellow Magic Orchestra to record the LP Technodon, and in 1998 returned with Discord, his first work of classical music. Pre Life in Progress followed a year later, as did The Complete Index of Gut. In 1999, he released the album Intimate and premiered his ambitious multimedia opera LIFE.

Since 2000, Sakamoto has kept busy recording and releasing myriad albums, including his reworking of Antonio Carlos Jobim's music with cellist/arranger Jacques Morelenbaum and his wife, singer Paula Morelenbaum, on 2001's Morelenbaum 2/Sakamoto: Casa. His collaborations continued next with electronic musician Alva Noto on 2002's Vrioon and 2005's Insen. Also in 2005, Sakamoto released the experimental electronic-based album Chasm. In 2009, he released the solo acoustic album Playing the Piano, as well as the more experimental effort Out of Noise. That same year, Sakamoto 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. In 2010, Playing the Piano and Out of Noise were re-released as a two-disc edition. His collaborative output across 2011 and 2012 included Summvs (with Noto), Flumina (with Fennesz), and Ancient Future (with Christopher Willits). An denuclearization advocate, Sakamoto organized the NO NUKES 2012 festival which was held in Japan in July of that year. A reunited Yellow Magic Orchestra performed at the festival as did German synth-pop pioneers Kraftwerk. The year ended with the release of Three, an album featuring new arrangements of Ryuichi's works for trios. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

For Years this Genius has been making Compelling Film Scores that adds deep to the scenes.
I've never something so sad yet exciting
If you have not heard Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence soundtrack you are really missing out on some of Ryuichi's greatest!
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.
You mean Tony Takitani, the sad film adapted from the Murakami story, yes?
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???
found him when i heard ymo...smootc h y is a pretty cool RS album with a latin tinge
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.
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...
This is totally different!!
I just discovered Ryuichi Sakamoto in Pandora. Wow, distinctly beautiful. Thank you Pandora!
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~
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
carolinaking
Amazing musician.
jaymajumdar
Sakamoto is a genius. He is an amazing translator of emotion into music
Cool music! :-)
sandy.perkin s
I love this artist so much!!!!
dbarri3
edge weighted contours, like side slipping with conte. so nice to draw to.
he dont work in no bakery
The soundtrack for "Tony Takitani" was excellent--l e t ' s see it added to Pandora.
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
Lol make up is odd, but the man is a musical genius I admit.
What is with the make-up???
masterduurk
Awesome composer, but why is he wearing that rediculous makeup? I will forever admire, and never understand those wacky Japanese!
The Last Emperor is amazing. It really takes you to another world...
I love his "merry christmas mr. lawrence"
Very nice!
really neat texture chill yet engaging at the same time
ldilworth
Most excellent... n o t "typical"... h o l d s your interest while not becoming obnoxious or boring.
Techno. Classical. Bossa Nova. Hip Hop. 'Noise' music. Soundtracks. Even an olympic theme in '84. CHECK THIS DUDE OUT !!!!!!
its totally reminescent when im stressed and high!!!! i approve
dragonmz2
He has a smooth quality to his music, it's relaxing.

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