Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto: Electronic Luminaries in Collaboration


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Ryuichi Sakamoto came to worldwide fame as a member of influential Japanese synth-pop outfit Yellow Magic Orchestra. Making abundant use of new synthesizers, samplers and recording technology, the group pioneered a new electro-pop sound, with tracks like “Firecracker / Computer Game” becoming electro classics in the east and west. Sakamoto also pursued his own solo work, achieving a commercial breakthrough as YMO split up with his score to the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (which he also acted in). This also marked one of his finest musical unions with Japan frontman David Sylvian. Sakamoto has collaborated with many others since then, including David Byrne, Thomas Dolby, Iggy Pop and Berlin-based electronic music artist Alva Noto AKA Carsten Nicolai. The pair met when Carsten was performing in Tokyo, and the introduction led to them working together and forming their own unique electronic sound, with Sakamoto’s minimal piano complementing Nicolai’s glowing digital tapestry. Consistently pushing boundaries in electronic music, these are two musicians who will always be ahead of the game. In this episode of Couch Wisdom recorded at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy in New York, the unlikely duo discusses their respective musical backgrounds, their approach to collaboration and their absorbing live performances.

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