Ryuichi Sakamoto goes back to the basics with a 20th anniversary edition of his sweet set of solo piano suites BTTB in November

Ryuichi Sakamoto goes back to the basics with a 20th anniversary edition of his sweet set of solo piano suites BTTB in November
Photo: nss (zakkubalan)

Whether you know him for his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra, his award-winning film scores, or his stunning solo and collaborative releases, Ryuichi Sakamoto has been carrying on a dazzling, acrobatic sound act for 40 years now and shows no signs of letting up. Sakamoto continues to encourage listeners to use their imaginations, just as his own imaginative music continues to expand with each new composition or production. However, for his latest venture, Sakamoto is returning to his solo piano set from 1998, BTTB, which will be reissued in a deluxe edition for its 20th anniversary.

BTTB (acronym for “Back to the Basics”) is out November 9 on Milan Records (who released Sakamoto’s lauded last album, async). Although BTTB was popular upon release, spawning the much-loved single “Energy Flow”, it isn’t the easiest album to find nowadays, so this is a welcome anniversary reissue. Not just reissued but remastered “for the 21st Century” too! Plans for a deluxe double LP vinyl release are to follow in early 2019.

With a mantel sagging from award show baubles (he has won an Oscar, a Grammy, a BAFTA, and two Golden Globes), the anti-nuclear activist, cancer survivor, and electro-pop pioneer/elite score composer/actor/dancer/writer/etc. is an all-round Renaissance man. And when you’re someone like Sakamoto, you can call upon someone like Haruki Murakami to pen fittingly heart-warming liner notes characteristic of the novelist for your reissue. Murakami notes in the notes:

Personal and intimate music — somebody (an anonymous somebody) sitting alone in front of the school piano early in the morning, weaving a melody, exploring harmonies. Music that gradually fills a space with high ceilings that contains the wafting presence of rain. But music that leaves gaps where necessary. Once in a while, we need music like this and this way of being…no, perhaps all the time. We need it as much as we need hot black coffee at the break of dawn and a cat napping next to us in the afternoon.

In ongoing Sakamoto news, Stephen Nomura Schible’s documentary on Sakamoto, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, is still screening in select cities, the remaining dates can be accessed here. More importantly, the intimate portrait of one of the most enlightened and enthusiastic composers of our times is being streamed on Mubi for the next 20-something days. See the trailer below the stream of Sakamoto’s “Energy Flow.”


BTTB tracklisting:

01. Opus
02. Sonatine
03. Intermezzo
04. Lorenz and Watson
05. Choral No. 1
06. Choral No. 2
07. Do Bacteria Sleep?
08. Bachata
09. Chanson
10. Distant Echo
11. Prelude
12. Sonata
13. Uetax
14. Aqua
15. Energy Flow
16. Snake Eyes
17. Tong Poo
18. Reversing

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