The analog and synthetic “async” (conceived as a soundtrack to an imaginary Andrei Tarkovsky movie) marks Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first solo effort in about eight years, a period in which he was also diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014 and overcoming the disease. In that respect, the album is the artist’s most personal contemplation on the fragility of human existence.
The 61-minute result presented in 14 individual tracks is no pretty or cheerful sounding outcome as the composer has chosen to create some heavily treated sound architecture with a strong abstract and organic impact along various melancholic/mournful undercurrents. In addition, the spoken words and poetry on “Full Moon” and “Life, Life” reflect on the little things and values in life that matter.
I imagine though the discordant piano notes, heavy yet quirky sounds, glitch elements, treatments and implemented sound fragments all hanging in the spacious sound design might make quite some listeners feel uncomfortable. This will especially be the case for the strange percussive, chaotic and rather scary title track. Not to mention the funereal kind of feel embedded in this peculiar journey –which feels like a meditation on the quiet pieces such as “Tri” or “Garden”– through analogue synth, the sounds of things and of places. As such this recording offers a lot of challenges from start to finish and is far from easy.
P.S. The double vinyl edition of “async” contains the bonus track “Water State 2” not available on the cd.
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