Release Date: Feb 16, 2018
Record label: N/A
Genre(s): Electronic, Classical
High vibration go on. Glass is as austere as it is brimming with creativity; an anomaly that beckons its willing listeners into immersing themselves into the chilling aura the composition will undoubtedly evoke. The sounds you hear throughout Glass are cold and sparse, with nothing more to alleviate the sense of creeping terror. Alva Noto's works with Ryuichi Sakamoto have always crossed the realms of finely abstract electronics, but never before has it been so anxious and mysterious.
Glass can be seen as such a piece of music, very much so because of the way it was created. A live, intimate concert of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, which happened in the famous Philip Johnson's Glass House, worked the environment into the performance. Contact mics were placed around the building and attached to its glass structure; this way, due to the resonant qualities of glass, the building would become an instrument in the form of the aforementioned feedback loop.
A third of the way into his 2017 comeback album, async--Ryuichi Sakamoto's first solo album in eight years and his first since recovering from throat cancer--a rustling noise arises on "Walker." It's a hushed, uncanny piece, full of faraway electric drones mixed with a much closer and more personal sound, of leaves crunching underfoot. It's a sound that Sakamoto recorded while strolling the grounds of the 20th-century American architect Philip Johnson's iconic Glass House before a duo performance with Alva Noto (aka Carsten Nicolai) back in September 2016. Noto and Sakamoto's musical dialogue stretches back to the beginning of the 21st century, when the duo began trading the files that ultimately became 2002's Vrioon.
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai have had a long and fruitful partnership. What started with Nicolai adding high frequencies and low pulses to Sakamoto's delicate piano ended up--through four full-lengths and an EP, collectively called Virus, spanning nine years--being a uniquely minimal combination of modern classical and electronic music. It's a symbiotic pairing: Sakamoto has credited Nicolai with reintroducing him to the ideas of the composer John Cage, while Nicolai has said projects like Xerrox would not have been possible without Sakamoto introducing him to traditional notation and melody.