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Ryuichi Sakamoto MUSIC FOR FILM Soundtrack LP Vinyl NEW

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'I don't know whether music can enhance a film or not,' was Ryuichi Sakamoto's answer to a question in a 2004 survey of Sight and Sound about the relationship between music and film. One thing is certain: his scores certainly enhance the films they are made for. One has only to think of the magnificent soundtrack for Merry Christmas Mr.Lawrence (1983), his first major score with which he burst onto the international scene.

Sakamoto was already a celebrated pioneer in electronic music and composer/pianist/ singer in Japan when he was asked by Nagisa Oshima not only to write the music but also to star in the film alongside David Bowie as a prisoner who hypnotizes Sakamoto's Japanese prisoner-of-war camp commandant.

Ever since, his work for leading Japanese and international directors revealed him as one of the most inventive film composers of our time. The list of major directors Sakamoto worked with is impressive: Oshima again for Gohatto (1999), the veteran Japanese director Yoji Yamada for Nagasaki: Memories of My Son (2015), Takashi Miike for Ichimei (Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, 2011), Bernardo Bertolucci for The Last Emperor (1987, in which Sakamoto also acted and for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score), The Sheltering Sky (1990) and Little Buddha (1993), Brian De Palma for Snake Eyes (1998) and Femme Fatale (2002), Pedro Almodovar for High Heels (1991), Volker Schlöndorff for the Handmaid's Tale (1990), Oliver Stone, in his capacity as producer, for the miniseries Wild Palms (1993).

For those films and many more Japanese titles that did not get released in the West, the 64-year-old Sakamoto conceived a unique approach of film scoring: a blend of splendid melodies, synthesizer work, traditional orchestral music, drum tracks, sound effects and unusual musical colours. Out of his striking contrast of musical styles and cultures, he created standout scores that will never stop to fascinate and enchant us.

This album offers the first compilation of Sakamoto's contribution to the art of the film music. From Merry Christmas, Mr.Lawrence there's the haunting main theme that manages simultaneously to be Japanese and western, an idea that's central to the tension of the film's story.

Sakamoto calls each film he did with Bertolucci 'a big journey', and rightly so. For the intimate epic The Last Emperor, Sakamoto's score blends Chinese gestures with accessible melodies, "his music characterizing the opulence, mystery and ultimate sadness of the emperor's life". (VideoHound's Soundtrack). For The Sheltering Sky, based on Paul Bowles' 1949 novel, "Sakamoto wrote a rich, profusely emotive score, reflecting the emotional journey of the two characters, and the slow disintegration of their love story". For Little Buddha the composer "integrates a standard Hollywood-style film underscore with several Indian motifs".

A seldom mentioned score of Sakamoto is his one time collaboration with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. The result is certainly flavourful, relying on the sounds of a flamenco guitar to provide an occasional exotic colour.

Knowing Sakamoto's admiration for frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann (he called Herrmann's Psycho "one of the few exceptions when film music reaches the quality of 'pure music' such as Bach, Mozart, Brahms or Bartok"), no wonder Brian De Palma asked him for the music for Snake Eyes. As Jerry McCulley testifies, the result was brilliant: "Sakamoto does a truly amazing Benny impression, cranking up the brass and swirling strings into an unsettling sonic maelstrom that would've done late '50s Hitch proud". Most amazing in Femme Fatale, Sakamoto's next collaboration with De Palma is his playful pastiche on Ravel's Bolero, teasingly titled Bolerish and dictating the obsessive rhythm of the opening sequence, a jewel heist at the Cannes film festival.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu 's wilderness survival true story The Revenant (2015), provides the most recent track on the album, marking Sakamoto's triumphant comeback after he survived throat cancer. The Mexican director already used two pieces of Sakamoto's music for his film Babel (2006), one of them, the melancholic Bibo No Aozora, is also included on this album. For The Revenant, Sakamoto composed new ambient music that's simultaneously subdued , low-key and emotionally powerful.

Whoever doubts Sakamoto's status as one of the greatest living musicians and film composers, won't anymore after listening to this album.