Release Date: Dec 5, 2011
Record label: Touch
Released in a month which most music nerds spend pouring over year end best of lists and gorging on a buffet of unheard, exotic and often wildly disparate music, Flumina is basically the equivalent of a weeklong juice cleanse. While any collaboration between electronic producer Christian Fennesz and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has always veered safely into minimal territory, this is easily their most ascetic thing yet; across two discs and two hours, it maintains an almost religious focus on the subtle, slyly shifting interplay between Sakamoto's wandering piano melodies and Fennesz's woolly atmospherics, never peaking or troughing in any dramatic or otherwise notable fashion, and in fact never moving too far from the style and sensibility that it establishes in its very first minutes. Whether you consider this discipline or laziness might depend entirely on how long you listen for, and how.
This double disc is a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz, with the former man taking a decidedly dominant role throughout. The concept behind the album is fairly straightforward: on each night of a 24-date tour, Sakamoto wrote and performed a piano piece in a different key. By tour's end, he'd explored every possible tonal variation within Western notation.
Flumina is the third collaboration between Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakomoto. And it’s much more in the vein of 2007’s Cendre than their live outing from a few years before that, Sala Santa Cecilia. Where Sala Santa Cecilia was a lush and noisy record, constantly shifting between dense electronic clatter and distorted quiet, Flumina is overtly ambient: a subtle dialogue between Sakomoto’s artful piano meanderings and Fennesz’s atmospheric fuzz.