Sunday, September 27, 2009

2005 : 35 "Berlin" by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto

Insen is the second collaboration between the minimalist noise-sculptor Alva Noto and the airy pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto: a follow-up to Vrioon, from 2001. Taken together, these two albums stand far and away as the finest ambient electronic work to be released this decade: they are perhaps the only albums of the Aughts that serve as worthy successors to Brian Eno's canonical Music For Airports (1978). Like Eno's record, Insen is humanist and emotionally affecting without relying on music's traditional mechanisms for seizing attention: it is "as ignorable as it is interesting." But the album also distinguishes itself from the many Ambient clones that sprung up in Eno's wake, particularly through Noto's deployment of crisp, precise electronic micro-events. Noto superimposes mathematical grid-structures over the amorphous beauty of Sakamoto's piano lines, constraining them within structures of rationalist order, and preventing the album from drifting into the territory of toothless New Age music. Two collaborators operating at the top of their respective games, and yielding an absolutely perfect balance of elements.

Jeremy Bushnell

Listen: Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto >> "Berlin"

1 comment:

Darren said...

I have to say that of the three albums those two put out in the 00s, I think Insen is the weakest. But I'll qualify that by saying that they are all of a ridiculously high quality. Right now _utp with the Ensemble Modern is my favorite, because its the newest and covers some different textural landscapes than the other two.