Alva Noto / Ryuichi Sakamoto

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Insen Review

by Rob Theakston

This second collaboration between microsound mastermind Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto) and Ryuichi Sakamoto picks up where their first series of sessions left off. The instrumentation stays the same: Sakamoto on piano plucking dense, melancholy chords that attack and gradually fade among Nicolai's digitally crisp and clean drum programming and sine waves. But this time around, Nicolai just doesn't lay down a bed of rhythms and accentuation for Sakamoto's playing -- he tinkers with the sounds and manipulates them. The result is a more unified set of compositions that fold and weave into one another, which strips away the feeling of improvisation that glossed their first record. But the tradeoff results in a more cohesive record with a sharp, focused direction that is easily one of Nicolai's finest releases and another gem in a musical crown full of them for Sakamoto. It's one of 2005's most daring experiments in electronic music, and essential listening for IDM fans who like their glitches with a little melancholy attached to them.

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