A selection of solo works by the late Ryuichi Sakamoto have been gathered on a new Milan Records compilation, ‘Travesía’.
The album — which is available to listen to now — has been curated by Oscar-winning Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, with the album’s title translating to ‘journey’ in Spanish.
Sakamoto collaborated with the acclaimed director alongside alva noto for the soundtrack of Iñárritu’s 2015 film The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Originally intended to be a surprise project celebrating the Japanese composer’s 70th birthday, the new compilation is a result of nearly two years of planning and six months of Iñárritu listening to more than 1000 pieces.
“When Jean Christophe Chamboredon from Milan Records, and Norika Sora, Ryuichi’s manager, invited me to this project, my first instinct was to resist,” Iñárritu said in a press statement. “Sakamoto’s musical universe is so vast that the responsibility to honor him by choosing only 20 stars from his complex galaxy would be practically impossible. But after finding out that they were planning this as a surprise present for him, I had no other choice but to accept the challenge.”
TRAVESÍA is out today!
Available now both digitally and in vinyl:https://t.co/Vgbvn0lQAV
Originally conceived as a surprise project celebrating Sakamoto’s 70th birthday, the album is the result of nearly two years of planning and six months of meticulous curation by Iñárritu. pic.twitter.com/g48LAzX3sx
— ryuichi sakamoto (@ryuichisakamoto) May 5, 2023
He continued: “Even now, I keep discovering new elements in Ryuichi’s pieces that I’ve listened to for decades. The perception of his music becomes a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same.”
“Millenary musical tradition breathing through his relentless innovation. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music will be fully alive even when the rest of us are gone.
“I hope that, by listening to this selection, you’ll be able to experience that eternal emotional waterfall.”
Iñárritu enlisted collaborators Martin Hernandez and Martin Delgado to help with the process, focusing on the legendary composer’s lesser known tracks.
The album opens with ‘Thousand Knives’, the title track of Sakamoto’s 1978 debut album, and covers releases as recent as his 2017 full-length ‘async’.
Find the album art and tracklisting below.
1. ‘Thousand Knives’
2. ‘The Revenant Main Theme (Alva Noto Remodel)’
3. ‘Before Long’
5. ‘LIFE, LIFE’
6. ‘Ma Mère l’Oye’
8. ‘Tokyo Story’
9. ‘Break With’
11. ‘Asadoya Yunta’
14. ‘Thatness and Thereness’
19. ‘Same Dream, Same Destination’
20. ‘Composition 0919’
The pioneering composer died on March 28, aged 71. A statement on his official website read: “While undergoing treatment for cancer discovered in June 2020, Sakamoto continued to create works in his home studio whenever his health would allow. He lived with music until the very end.
“We would like to express out deepest gratitude to his fans and all those who have supported his activities, as well as medical professionals in Japan and the United States who did everything in their power to cure him.”
“In accordance with Sakamoto’s strong wishes, the funeral service was held among his close family members. Finally, we would like to share one of Sakamoto’s favourite quotes: ‘Ars longa, vita brevis’ [Art is Long, life is short’].”
Johnny Marr, Massive Attack and David Bowie’s estate were among artists who lead tributes to the composer.
Following his death, NME reflected on Sakamoto’s impact on the video game industry, describing him as a “legendary musician” who “inspired a generation of video game developers and composers while paving the way for electronic music”.