UTP_ is a new album by Japanese composer/musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and German electronic sound artist Alva Noto, a.k.a. Carsten Nicolai. This, their fourth collaboration, was instigated when the city of Mannheim invited the two artists to create an audio-visual performance together with the group Ensemble Modern, one of the leading chamber ensembles performing contemporary classical music.
The result is unlike any of the preceding albums by the duo: their minimalist music rests here on a resonant sound provided by Ensemble Modern's classic instruments. These instruments in turn form a counterpoint to the electronics (such as in the very strong opener attack/transition) or melt with them by adding layers of intricacy, such as on particle 1. The sound is thus richer and more organic than the previous Alva Noto/Ryuichi Sakamoto releases. Overall this is a very satisfying piece of music, not least for the intricate texture that has been constructed here and which reveals its secrets only upon repeated listening.
UTP_ is in some ways reminiscent of Ryuichi Sakamoto's latest solo album, Out of Noise, which was released earlier this year in Japan. Probably recorded after UTP_, it picks up on some of the themes of this album, most notably in the way that chamber music and electronics were mixed.
I stumbled upon UTP_ by accident on iTunes, and googling it returns remarkably few results. I wonder why the release of such a potentially major work of art was treated so low-key by both artists?
Personally, I like the album a lot and can recommend it to anyone interested in electronic and/or contemporary classical music.
UTP_ by Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modern is a Raster-Noton release.
Out of Noise by Ryuichi Sakamoto has been released in Japan by commons.
Rating: 5 out of 5.