Ryuichi Sakamoto, Illuha, & Taylor Dupree: Perpetual (CD, 12K, February 2015)

I’ve had a few odd experiences listening to this record on headphones. Once, for example, travelling on the tube, I felt lifted out of time and space. This metal box we were in wasn’t a carriage hurtling down the Northern line, but some kind of pocket of stasis where position and movement had no meaning. I’m not sure how long this lasted in real time, possibly only a moment, certainly less than the couple of minutes between stops, but it was quite intense. Looking around at my fellow passengers afterwards, it seemed like these weren’t just strangers on a train, but companions on a journey.

On the face of it, this is a very gentle album. The label describe it as “an improvised set for piano, guitar, pump organ, and synthesizers”. There are warm hums and chimes. There’s Sakamoto’s trademark piano sound, clusters of notes allowed to fall into the composition and reverberate. There are clicks, pops, and clanks, noises synthesized, sampled, and performed (apparently by dropping metal things, possibly into the piano?), abstract but precise. The three movements each have their own mood: the first is intricately layered, the second sparse, the third minimally melodic. Understatedly uplifting, nothing seems forced here, but it subtly achieves a hugely powerful effect.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Modern Classical / Ambient.

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