The 24 pieces of ‘flumina’ are based on piano compositions/ improvisations which Ryuichi Sakamoto had recorded whilst touring in Japan. On that tour Ryuichi played a piano piece in a different key at the beginning of every show, always having a ‘fennesz sakomoto’ project in mind. After 24 shows he had 24 tracks in 24 different keys, covering all 24 tonal steps of the western tonal system. Sakamoto sent the tracks over to Christian Fennesz and he worked on them using electronics, guitars and synths. They met in New York then and mixed the album together with Fernando Aponte at KAB Studios.
This is their 3rd collaboration released on Touch, after the live recording of ‘Sala Santa Cecilia’ [Touch # Tone 22, 2005] and ‘Cendre [Touch # Tone 32, 2007].
released November 29, 2011
Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham
Recorded at Amann Studios, Vienna and at KA+B Studios, NY and Japan.
Mixed at BA+B Studios, NY.
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz are the twin pillars of advanced music composition in the 21st century. And the concept of these two coming together in collaboration is akin to a dream tag team union of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Philip Glass.
But the fact of the matter is that unlike those aforementioned titans of experimental classical, Sakamoto and Fennesz have worked together on and off since the 1990s, drawn to one another’s abilities and affinities for melding modern classical composition with the electronic sounds of techno, microhouse, synthpop, new wave, hip-hop and IDM. Yet while the two men have performed concerts in tandem for nearly 20 years, their recorded output up until now has been as sporadic as their sonic methodology, boasting only a 2005 live EP called Sala Santa Cecilia and a 2007 studio effort entitled Cendre.
However, the Fen-Sak duo make up for their studio sparsity in spades with the release of their epic third set, an expansive two-disc set entitled Flumina rooted in two dozen improvisations for solo piano recorded by Sakamoto while on tour in his native Japan. During these 24 dates, he played each piece in a different key until he wound up covering all 24 steps of the Western Tonal Spectrum, which encompasses an equal temperament of 12 major keys and 12 minor keys.
After the tour wrapped, the former chief proponent of the pioneering late ‘70s electronic rock band Yellow Magic Orchestra processed the pieces he recorded through his computer and sent the tracks to his old friend Fennesz, who in turn extrapolated upon these piano improvisations by augmenting them through the utilization of treated guitar drones, laptop science and an arsenal of synths. The pair then met up in New York, where they worked together on mixing the double LP with the help of fellow composer and engineer Fernando Aponte at KAB Studio.
What they ended up with nothing short of a masterpiece of electro-acoustic ambience that builds upon Sakamoto’s conceptual spin on the Western Tonal Spectrum with a plaintive sense of futuristic calm tailor made for late nights in the office and quiet mornings of meditation.
Flumina is an arresting and beautiful work as deep and open as the body of water that graces its cover art.
Fennesz uses guitar and computer to create shimmering, swirling electronic sound of enormous range and complex musicality.
His lush and luminant compositions are anything but sterile computer experiments. They resemble sensitive, telescopic recordings of rainforest insect life or natural atmospheric occurrences, an inherent naturalism permeating each piece....more
Absolutely stunning. With an absolute minimum of means, this album creates one of the largest, richest worlds of sound I've ever heard. This isn't music for dinner parties, its music for getting and being lost (which, if it's not clear, is a compliment.) nicholasgrider
These experimental electronic songs, half of which stretch past the 10-minute mark, evolve slowly and with purpose, building incrementally to climaxes as intuitive as they are thrilling. Bandcamp Album of the Day Jan 13, 2020