Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ongaku Zukan

WeWantSounds • 1984

The album title can be read as the title of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s artistic aspirations. »Ongaku Zukan« translates as »musical encyclopaedia«. For more than four decades, until his death earlier this year, the Japanese composer, musician and producer worked like a scientist on a multi-stylistic meta-music that had nothing but music as its subject. In 1983, the soundtrack to the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence catapulted Sakamoto into the international spotlight, and his influential Yellow Magic Orchestra disbanded (for the first time). For his fourth solo album, Ongaku Zukan, Sakamoto bought an expensive toy that must have seemed like the manifestation of the future at the time: the Fairlight CMI, a digital synthesiser with a sampler that set no limits to his experimentation. On the album, Ryuichi Sakamoto worked with the Fairlight and two dozen musicians, including his two YMO collaborators Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahshi, to bring together and juxtapose a wide variety of styles. The album features Asian-influenced electro-pop, reinterpretations of European art music, avant-garde minimalism, proto-techno and jazz creations. All forms of expression that Sakamoto would continue to explore in more detail in the decades to come. After almost 40 years, »Ongaku Zukan« is being released internationally for the first time in the two rare Japanese versions, including bonus EPs on 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl.