Ryuichi Sakamoto’s soundtrack credits go all the way back to 1983 when he scored Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a film he also co-starred in - alongside David Bowie. Since then he’s worked on a host of film scores, most recently his collaboration with Alva Noto on the epicly haunting Revenant soundtrack. Throughout this time, Sakamoto’s ability to combine classical with experimental to build a unique mood has made his scores some of the best out there.
For this latest soundtrack, Sakamoto was enlisted by legendary Japanese writer-director Yoji Yamada for a film about a mother who has lost her son in the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Naturally the tragic subject matter warrants a fair amount of sombre piano music (which Sakamoto is a master at) but the 28 tracks on ‘Nagasaki’, many of which run for a minute or less, throw up quite a few surprises too.
‘Sweet Memories’ brings a big mood change with its tango strings and accordion. Then ‘Memories of My Son PF’ spirals back into melancholia and darkness. ‘August 9th 11.02am’ is a very literal sonic depiction of the bombing itself, again masterfully done building to a crescendo and then exploring the aftermath.
Sakamoto is currently working on a new solo album (His first since 2013’s ‘Three’) which he says will explore “sound and music, not just music,” using field recordings and noise. This latest soundtrack shows Sakamoto is still brimming with ideas and shows no signs of quitting. Good news all round.
Words: Jack Dolan
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