Fennesz Sakamoto - Cendre

Cendre was one of the 2007 Albums of the Year in Kulturflash (UK)

The Observer (UK):

Rant Magazine (UK):

In a time wherein petty tight trousers, the Kooks and I-Pods hold sway, this is real rebel music. The second collaboration between these two celebrated artists, Cendre sounds – even within it’s stripped down sonic palette – like the world is existing, living, breathing amidst its wordless sonic poetry.

Some history then? Not that it’ll impact upon your enjoyment of this music but the names might suddenly appear more familiar if I tell you about the two gentlemen involved, Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The former is esteemed star of Austrian electronica. When his Mego released Endless Summer album dropped at the turn of the new millennium, all hailed the way in which his digitally refracted pop warmth bathed in the perpetual sun of Brian Wilson-esque melody. Sakamoto was one third of J-Pop synth trio, Yellow Magic Orchestra and scored the soundtrack to Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence amongst many other musical endeavors. This is their second collaboration and a work of sublime beauty it is.

What Cendre does, in essence, is marry the heavily processed guitar soundscapes of Fennesz with the minimal, Satie styled, piano improvisations of Sakamoto. The process of collaboration between these two artists was, by all accounts, a long distance one. Yet they perfectly compliment each other and conspire to produce music which is (paradoxically) at once intimate and awe-inspiring. It’s hard to articulate just how near transcendental Cendre is, especially its first half. I’ve been listening continuously for the past two weeks and each time prompts a new feeling within me, a different shade of wistful romance which typifies the music. When you return from a hard day at work – that twilight period between popping your collar/getting on with your evening and reflecting on the shit you’ve had to put up with from The Man. Or that moment when your mind disconnects from your body before falling asleep, the brain still racing with thoughts, assimilating the music but your body is still, unable to respond physically. These moments, these obscure but oddly everyday and mundane moments, are when Cendre works best, filling your void with beauty the way Sakamoto’s piano fills up the ample spaces created by Fennesz’s guitar textures.

Such saccharine excursions into sound design reach a high point with the gorgeous Haru. It then melts into Trace, a track which epitomizes Cendre’s darker, disconcerting but no less soulful side wherein discordant piano lines weave minor key patterns over near industrial, ultra-treated guitar noise. Indeed, it’s a testament to the extent of Fennesz’s digital manipulation that his guitar sounds nothing like a guitar – more like the oppressive skyline of a smog fuelled city or a relentlessly glitching piece of archaic computer software- until the track Glow commences and traces of cut’n’paste guitar melody intertwine with Sakamoto’s melancholic piano mediations.

Don’t let my ramblings put you off. Look at it this way: Fennesz loves the Beach Boys and Sakamoto was in Yellow Magic Orchestra. What I mean is – dive in and explore. It’s accessible, genuine and melodic enough to appeal to people who don’t read Wire magazine…and it deserves your attention. [Rich Hanscomb]

BBCi (UK):

This first, full-length recording by Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto is a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. It’s essentially a marriage of delicate acoustic piano played by Sakamoto and ambient textures courtesy of Fennesz. As such, cendre (all text is studiously rendered in lower-case) is a very different work from the duo’s first release, the 19 minute Sala Santa Cecilia (2005), on which it was nearly impossible to tell which performer contributed which sounds.

First piece, ''oto'', is ushered in on a gulf stream current. Sakamoto drops brief, pendant chords that fall into opaque depths like pebbles into a blue ocean. The texture of ''aware'' is grittier, as if gravel were being ground to dust in an iron cylinder. Sakamoto’s piano briefly merges and disappears into the mixture before clearly delineated upper notes appear like sudden stars in a night-sky, followed by reassuring chords suggestive of a comforting hand on the shoulder.

By the fourth piece, ''trace'', Sakamoto’s melodic approach is familiar, which makes his decision to sketch unresolved patterns all the more unsettling. Fennesz’s setting changes key as well and the mood becomes tremulous and uncertain. There’s a new-found eeriness that conveys a sense of disruption and loss. Sakamoto’s piano sounds treated, as though the hammers, Cage-like, have been muffled. His brief return to the initial melody towards the end only underlines the beauty of the composition.

In addition to the reference to Cage, it’s impossible not to relate Cendre to two other key piano and electronics recordings: Harold Budd and Brian Eno’s The Pearl and Sakamoto’s ongoing collaboration with German artist Alva Noto. cendre is ultimately closer to Budd and Eno’s work as no overt rhythms trouble or pierce Sakamoto’s playing. The amount of space the two performers allow each other is remarkable. Although the predominant initial impression is of Sakamoto’s piano, familiarity gradually reveals Fennesz’s contributions as equally rich and essential. cendre is a sure bet for lovers of sonic pulchritude. [Colin Buttimer]

Pitchfork (USA):

This piano/electronics duo is an arrangement Ryuichi Sakamoto has been recently exploring in concert, with ultra-minimalist Alva Noto among others, so it seems a natural for his second collaboration with Christian Fennesz. Listening to Cendre after returning again to Sala Saint Cecilia, their EP from 2005, affirms that the two records couldn't be more different. The latter was a single live 19-minute track that found Sakamoto inhabiting the abstract digitalia we've come to associate with Fennesz, directing his diverse talent toward epic computer- based composition. Cendre feels like a meeting of equals occurring precisely halfway between the two.

The obvious precursors here are the two albums composer Harold Budd made with producer Brian Eno. Like Ambient 2/Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl, Cendre consists of one person playing delicate pieces on an acoustic piano while another fills the ample spaces with electronic treatments. Eno's contributions to the Budd records were sometimes so subtle you weren't sure he was doing anything beyond giving the reverb slider an occasional bump. Fennesz' omnipresent drones and crackly beds of sound, on the other hand, are central here, providing a virtual room for Sakamoto's piano and regularly shifting the tone of the pieces by several shades in a given direction. Fennesz also plays and processes guitar, and he and Sakamoto both are credited with "laptop."

There's an intriguing openness to this music, a sense of suggestion that nonetheless refuses to favor any particular mood. Fennesz and Sakamoto seem to be constantly searching for those in-between spaces, where serenity is infused with a sense of uneasiness and hope is laced with dread. The music's emotional cast can move in any of several directions depending on what the listener brings to it. Because of this atmospheric flexibility, Cendre as a whole is at first difficult to get a handle on, and single-word song titles like "Trace" and "Mono" provide few clues.

Sometimes the musicians seem to be pushing against each other, as on "Aware". Here Sakamoto's right hand plays a soft melody while the disconcerting electronics stew and churn, a veritable cauldron of trouble and unease. "Glow" derives its energy from the contrast between the measured piano lines and the unpredictable surges of feedback and bits of cut-up guitar, which emerge like random flutters of sound bouncing against some Chopin nocturne. Elsewhere, the two composers seem to be working in concert toward a single goal, as with the title track, which is mostly electronic drone with bits of a garbled transmission and just a foreboding bass note or two from the piano.
Ever since having my guts torn out by an encounter with Satie's Gymnopédies many years ago, a certain kind of piano makes me a little suspicious. From watching films, we're so used to hearing spare keyboard melodies propping up melodrama, it can seem too easy to rig an effect, so I've always got an ear out for something that feels manipulative. This music, which is most interesting when the record is heard at its full length, seems to come from a different place. With its even mood and patiently unfolding tracks, Cendre leaves a lot of time and space for contemplation, and there is the sense that the listener is expected to do some work to "complete" the music. Cendre seems to be a series of exquisitely phrased questions that we're all to answer as we wish. [Mark Richardson]

Amazon (Japan)

Brainwashed (USA):

The first full length collaboration between these two internationally known electronic composers lives up to the hype, showing both artists demonstrating their considerable strengths, and the sum is even greater than its parts.

An international collaboration of the most literal sort, Japanese (by way of NYC) composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Austrian laptop/guitar maestro Christian Fennesz come together here, following their earlier collaborative EP Sala Santa Cecilia, in this case manage to work together while never actually being in the same place at the same time. The tracks were composed between 2004 and 2006, with each artist initiating a piece. This early work was then sent to the other for reworking, and then returned until the track was complete. Sakamoto and Fennesz did meet for live shows, but the recording continued to be separate endeavors. This distinctly modern working style had no adverse effect on the proceedings, as the tracks make for a cohesive, consistent feeling throughout.

For the purposes of Cendre, both artists used laptops as an instrument, while Sakamoto contributed piano, and Fennesz his requisite guitar. For the most part, Sakamoto's piano playing remains a clear and distinct element, sometimes clear and gentle ("Oto," "Haru") other times dissonant and oblique ("Trace," "Abyss"). This is in stark contrast to Fennesz's guitar work, which is often tweaked and processed into something barely recognizable. Exceptions come in the form of "Kokoro," where, though noisy, guitar is distinctly heard along with low bit rate samples and subtle piano, and on "Glow," where clean acoustic guitar playing is heard above the submerged aquatic tones and otherwordly digital effects.

The stringed instruments are not the overwhelming element of any of the tracks, as neither composer's digital contributions should go unspoken. "Mono" features electronics that, percussively, best represent bubbles coming up from a thick, mucky mud, while the title track mixes drone and piano with what sounds like cell phone interference recorded and then manipulated. "Abyss" ends the disc with tons of reverb, calm melodies, and what sounds like wind blowing out of the titular darkness.

While these two artists represent different points on the continuum of electronic music's evolution, their combined effort makes for a intergenerational collaboration that meets its lofty expectations. [Creag Dunton]

Boomkat (UK):

We've pulled a lot of strings to bring you the immense Fennesz / Sakamoto collaboration a little earlier than its official UK release - and it's an album that would have justified turning the world upside down to acquire. It's a collaboration that sounds pretty much exactly how you'd imagine - Sakamoto's lilting, unparalleled piano motif's rendered through and surrounded by a warm fuzz of process and soundscaping from Fennesz, abandoning the more experimental leanings of their previous union "Live At Salsa Santa Cecilia" in favour of something that's both sweeping with its micro-orchestral flourishes and engrossing with its emphasis on simplicity and beauty. It's hard to imagine many other records this year tapping into quite so many of our customers interests, if you have a pulse you'll already know how lovely this record is going to be - it's a total must.

The fact that you're on this site and reading this review assumes you're of a certain musical disposition, and if you are in any way interested in the more beautiful things in life, the sensitive yet experimental end of modern music - pay close attention as this album is just about as good as it gets. I first heard "Cendre" a few weeks back and it blew me away instantly. Christian Fennesz and Sakamoto working on a full album together? Yes, and rather than go down the route of their previous short-form collaboration 'Sala Saint Cecilia' (which was drifting and sometimes impenetrable), "Cendre" is an album focused on layered harmonies and simplicity. Taking Sakamoto's signature piano work (think 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' and you're on the right track) and classic Fennesz production ('Endless Summer', 'Venice', '"Plays") 'Cendre' feels like the perfect meeting of minds - and while it might be obvious to reference Sakamoto's high-profile collaborative work with Carsten Nicolai, these two musicians seem much more evenly matched. Sakamoto's haunting motifs may be wrapped up in sheets of harmonic noise, but they never become overwhelming - rather this is an album which revolves around subtlety and attention to detail. The emphasis here is on an almost Zen-like calmness and the restraint around which the two have balanced the album is just hard to fathom. It's the sort of record that can change your mood, but without resorting to cliché or emphasis on 'ambience'; it is optimistic and life-affirming but never over-wraught, I wouldn't even say that it is sentimental. Cendre, rather, is an album that you can imagine piecing together your own stories to, an album which is primed for you to remember ten or twenty years down the line, leaving you with that nameless, warm, fuzzy nostalgia and a heavy heart. I don't even think I need to mention Eno or Harold Budd do I? Absolutely gorgeous, and without a doubt one of the finest, loveliest records you'll hear this year. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE....

Serial Consign (USA):

When vanguard musicians of different generations decide to collaborate the results can vary wildly. Ryuichi Sakamato has helped define avant garde music in Japan for about three decades, and the one-time member of Yellow Magic Orchestra has waded into the microsound post-mille plateaux waters in recent years through collaborations with Carsten Nicolai. I never found (Vrioon (2003) and Insen (2005)) that engaging as they don't sound particularly synergistic. For me the outcome of these encounters has been less than the sum of its parts (as I love both of their solo work). So when I heard that Sakamoto was to release a collaborative album with Christian Fennesz I was a bit hesitant about the project, but still made a point of tracking it down.

Fennesz, of course, is the alchemist who weaves tapestries of distorted tectonics and numerous varieties of soul nurturing warm fuzz. Fennesz's 2001 Endless Summer is undoubtedly one of my favourite records of the last decade, and I've enjoyed his subsequent work. So what happens when this world of processed guitar meets Sakamoto's melancholic piano composition? The concise answer would be brilliance.

The album has a depth and emotional resonance the likes of which I have not encountered for a while. Beyond that it is downright eerie how complementary Fennesz and Sakamoto's aesthetics are. Sakamoto is known for the stoic, restrained handling of the keyboard but when Fennesz is added to the equation the mix becomes magical.

Cendre will be released on May 15th on Touch [via Forced Exposure]. In my opinion it is definiely one of the essential recordings of 2007 thus far.

Worth the Wait

If there had been any doubt (and honestly, why would there ever be?) about the new album featuring the collaboration between Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, the first notes to enter your ears lay all fears to rest. Like a building tide, Cendre opens with delicate melodies - not unlike the delicateness found on the Vrioon, Insen and Rev EP albums - and beautiful sound washes blending together for a unique phonic experience. Ruichi Sakamoto's piano immediately envelopes the lisetener into an ethereal soundscape and Fennesz's presence is equally as powerful, weaving a beautiful and haunting ambience throughout each track. "Amorph", "Glow" and "Abyss" are the tracks to listen for, though the entire album is an aural feast that wholly satisfies. [Submitted by Michael in Philadelphia, PA, USA]

Ear Rational (USA):

This is the highly anticipated full-length collaborative release by Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, following the 19-minute CD EP overture, Sala Santa Cecilia (a completely separate release which is not included here). This release features a massive duet between worldwide laptop guru Fennesz (guitar/laptop) and Japanese electronic music legend Sakamoto (piano/laptop) - a continuing collaboration between two much-lauded composers. Every once in a great while, a collaboration comes along which hints at a brighter future, a collision of giants that indicates a convergence of method and music. This is one such event. Cendre was recorded between 2004 and 2006 in New York City by Ryuichi Sakamoto and in Vienna by Christian Fennesz. Fennesz would send Sakamoto a guitar or electronic track and Sakamoto would compose his piano piece. This process was also reversed - Sakamoto initiating the track with a piano composition and Fennesz responding. Meanwhile, they met for live shows, or communicated via digital means to compare notes, swap ideas and develop themes. And the cyclical process continued right up until the final mix. Christian Fennesz is far and away the standard-bearer of laptop music, his thawed sound of fractured guitar chords and warm noise melts hearts around the world. Ryuichi Sakamoto, meanwhile, has been a contributing force in electronic music for almost three decades in Yellow Magic Orchestra, not to mention his vast solo oeuvre. This remarkable duo blends the unstructured and imaginative qualities of improvisation with the satisfying sculpture of composition. Sakamoto's piano, his style reminiscent of Debussy and Satie, perfectly complements Fennesz with his powerful blend of shimmering guitar and passionate electronics. Together they have combined to create 11 tracks of satisfying and challenging possibilities.

Musica (Italy):

Etichetta: Touch - Voto: 8
Brano migliore: Cendre

Se avevate apprezzato "Sala Santa Cecilia", il bel gioiellino (il diminutivo è dovuto solo alla durata) registrato dal vivo a Roma nel 2004, questo primo album in studio della coppia Christian Fennesz e Ryuichi Sakamoto non vi deluderà.
A colpire, principalmente, è il fatto che in quest’occasione il lavoro dei due musicisti è basato sulle individuali capacità di relazionarsi con i propri mezzi e i propri talenti.

E se, da un lato, Fennesz si prodiga nella squisita arte della manipolazione elettronica dei suoni, dall’altro Sakamoto fa quello che da sempre gli riesce meglio, ossia suonare il pianoforte. Facile dunque, questa volta, distinguere l’operato dei due. Meno facile, invece, è riuscire a rimanere indifferenti dalla magia che Cendre riesce a creare.

Se le trame concrete elaborate dalla sapiente programmazione di Fennesz vi sono sempre piaciute, qui riusciranno a sbalordirvi risultando magnificamente adatte nella veste di playback per le sublimi divagazioni di Sakamoto sugli ottantotto tasti.

Non è Classica e nemmeno Jazz o Avanguardia. E’ qualcos’altro. Un necessario momento di stacco da tutte le inquietudini della vita moderna, comprese quelle che talvolta escono per distrazione dalle casse dei nostri impianti domestici. Undici composizioni di Neue Musik che rimandano tanto a Varèse e Pousseur quanto a Mahler e Bartòk ma senza dimenticare gli insegnamenti di Gérard Grisey e della sua Musique Spéctrale.

Non vi spaventino tutti questi nomi altisonanti, l’album ha il pregio di risultare gradevole anche a chi, magari, non ha mai avuto l’occasione o la voglia di addentrarsi nei meandri della musica sperimentale. Il gioco di questo disco consiste proprio nel tentativo di rendere fruibile una sonorità fino ad oggi appannaggio di circuiti elitari ed un po’ snob che, nonostante il percorso (giustamente) ambizioso dei due autori, rimane scevra da richiami simbolici, mistici o (peggio) esoterici.

Ciò che principalmente viene chiesto è di apprezzare la veste romantica e affascinante che questa opera mette in scena immaginando paesaggi bucolici di musicalità sopraffina. [Joyello]

VITAL (The Netherlands):

The first collaborative release between guitarist/laptop artist Christian Fennesz and pianist/laptop artist Ryuichi Sakamoto was a nineteen minute work called 'Sala Santa Cecilia' which for some reasons didn't make it to Vital Weekly, even when much later it was heard in the head quarters. In that work it seemed fore most a battle of lap-tops and less based on their own instruments, and made a good but perhaps not always convincing. In the years to follow the two continued to work on new material in each of their own studio, sending sounds to the other and occasionally they met during concerts and further developed their work. Perhaps this is the reason that the emphasizes lies much more on Sakamoto's piano and lesser to Fennesz' guitar and both (perhaps!) do an equal share of electronics. When I played it first time around it was a somewhat softer volume and it seemed to me that the piano played a louder contribution, but in the times after that, turning up the volume, things are indeed more in balance. The Budd/Eno connection was made more in the past weeks (Red Needled Sea, Feu Follet, Krater), so it seems like a small revival, since Fennesz Sakamoto add their share too. Sakamoto's light touch on the piano may remind the listener also of Eric Satie, but with Fennesz laptop in the back, things never sound too smooth or easy. 'Kuni' is a slightly dissonant piece with creepy electronic string like sounds, and is almost like a horror movie soundtrack. In other pieces they are much more accessible, but it defines the strength of this album. What on just a superficial level may sound similar, is in fact the difference in the details. It's a beautiful, well-balanced album that displays the qualities of both performers in the best possible way. Two masters at work. (FdW)

Pitchfork (USA):

Here Ryuichi Sakamoto plays an evocative nocturne on acoustic piano while Christian Fennesz bathes him in soft digital rain. In terms of noir-ish mood, this particular combination can't miss, as the Japanese renaissance man and elder statesman of experimental music is so well versed on what to leave in and what to leave out. The spaces between the notes is what Fennesz plays along with, and he conjures a static-ridden treatment that would have sounded noisy 27 years ago, when Eno was engaged in broadly similar experiments with pianist Harold Budd. Here in the post-glitch era, however, his bed of sound soothes and placates with its subtle crackles.

Exclaim (Canada):

The impetus behind Cendre, the new full-length studio session between Japanese classical pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto and Austrian glitch guitar impresario Christian Fennesz, is 2005’s Sala Santa Cecilia, the 20-minute live EP recorded at an Italian festival. Ever since, a repeat performance has been highly anticipated and, with Cendre, those who’ve been waiting for these two to release more material together can breathe a sigh of relief because Cendre is as good, if not better, than the EP that preceded it. Of course, Fennesz fans should approach this album with a grain of salt. Much like Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborations with Carsten Nicolai, Cendre is very much a classical piano album that has Fennesz filling out the background with ambient guitarscapes. And, to his credit, Sakamoto has been more willing than any other established classical composer (where are you, Philip Glass?) to engage the new generation of electronic classicists. The results have revitalised his career and introduced his catalogue to an entirely new demographic. That said, Fennesz fans will find here the musician’s warmest and most approachable work to date since Endless Summer, even though it does not constitute his most ambitious. An inspiring album, Cendre is filled with beautiful passages, even though it’s not as inspired a collaboration as some would have hoped. [Dimitri Nasrallah]

Dusted (USA):

A willfully disconnected piece of music achieved by global disconnection, Cendre is a true airmail special. Christian Fennesz sticks with his usual panoply: guitar and laptop; Ryuichi Sakamoto likewise with laptop and piano. As is often the case, Fennesz's guitar sounds nothing like strings, wood and electricity. He might as well be bowing a steel snow-shovel. Sakamoto resists artful manipulation, though, leaving the ivories wholly intact to create a lovely unification between organic and inorganic sound, a subtle jarring trick that comes off as painterly disguise. Cendre is a wide white brushstroke over a palimpsest of cray-pas’d peonies.

Both laptops work fervently, but with that sort of chilly stoicism held by keys and hardware that quietly beg for warm human input. The color achieved by electronic tinkering is spring-like; their explosive tones are embellished and slowly erased of their hues by a piano that is at once friendly and pryingly invasive. Sakamoto rightly – and successfully – stays within the close margins of Satie’s minimalism, occasionally drifting into environs sparsely populated (see “Trace” for its spidery and often atonal couplets reminiscent of Cornelius Cardew’s early work at the keys). Fennesz’s macrocosmic washes don’t ever collide with Sakamoto’s wincing fragility; they work as subtext, allowing the listener to shift focus between a narrative that could have resembled two ships passing in the night in clumsier hands. Their success with long-distance “improv” isn’t exactly startling: Fennesz and Sakamoto have had plenty of time to feel each other out and absorb individual languages and processes since getting together in 2004.

Whatever is “gleaned” from this music is user dependent. Meaning is everywhere and nowhere. Impressions could – and should – range from gentle, impassioned fucking to the discovery of a body in full rigor to the taking of a bull moose from 300 yards away. This is definitively an emotional music, built of expressive and subtly ponderous layers with able and careful hands, and, like the foreshadowing offered by its title, ultimately reduced to the nothingness of ash – created and destroyed, with only the unidentifiable rubble of ruin to prove that it ever existed in the first place. [Stewart Voegtlin]

Rough Trade (UK):

when vanguard musicians of different generations decide to collaborate the results can vary wildly. ryuichi sakamato has helped define avant garde music in japan for about three decades, and the one-time member of yellow magic orchestra has waded into the microsound post-mille plateaux waters in recent years through collaborations with carsten nicolai. i never found (vrioon (2003) and insen (2005)) that engaging as they don't sound particularly synergistic. for me the outcome of these encounters has been less than the sum of its parts (as i love both of their solo work). so when i heard that sakamoto was to release a collaborative album with christian fennesz i was a bit hesitant about the project, but still made a point of tracking it down. fennesz, of course, is the alchemist who weaves tapestries of distorted tectonics and numerous varieties of soul nurturing warm fuzz. fennesz's 2001 endless summer is undoubtedly one of my favourite records of the last decade, and i've enjoyed his subsequent work. so what happens when this world of processed guitar meets sakamoto's melancholic piano composition? the concise answer would be brilliance. the album has a depth and emotional resonance the likes of which i have not encountered for a while. beyond that it is downright eerie how complementary fennesz and sakamoto's aesthetics are. sakamoto is known for the stoic, restrained handling of the keyboard but when fennesz is added to the equation the mix becomes magical.

Gothtronic (UK):

In 1983, my little world changed and it was partially because of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Being a huge fan of David Bowie, I had to see 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' where Bowie starred as Major Jack Celliers. In that movie Ryuichi Sakamoto also had a role, but he as well wrote the score for the movie. Together with David Sylvian he wrote the theme song 'Forbidden Colours' which was released on one of the most impressive Japan albums ever: 'Secrets of the Beehive'. Yes, Ryuichi Sakamoto earned a special place in my heart.

Still I lost track of his works. I was young, there was other music, girls, school, and you don't impress too many 17 year olds by saying you're heavily into classical music and Japanese composers.

Until the year 2003 ...

I was totally flabbergasted when I first heard the magnificent 'Vrioon' on Raster Noton. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto. The album made it straight into my personal top-list as 'best albums ever'.

And now there is a new album released on Touch by Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Great massively produced soundscapes which are still fragile as minimalistic drones, combined with the erratic yet melodic pianosounds from Sakamoto. A pleasure to the ear of both classicist as well as droner or experimentalist. Somehow it seems like another episode - and a higher state of consciousness - in the live and works of both artists, but there is a 'but'.

The works of Sakamoto on this CD are great, and the additional sounds are gorgeous, yet it feels like something is missing. The CD doesn't have the sparkle or chemistry I personally felt with the release with Alva Noto. Don't misinterpret these words, as it is a brilliant release.

I advice everybody to get it. A glass of red wine, this album and a few burning candles will turn every evening into an unforgettable one ...

Cyclic Defrost (Australia):

At first blush, the computer-bleated guitar drones of Christian Fennesz mirror, in a dreamy manner, the rise and fall of Sakamoto’s rolling piano chords and gentle note-runs. Quite apart from the pairs first effort, which seemed all but trapped in Fennesz’ serrated nest, Cendre initially seems to bear out Sakamoto’s fluid, sweeping signature and, as such, may perhaps be likened to a warped Satie pastiche. Successive sojourns through the album makes apparent that more of a spiderweb logic is at play here, though. The contours and emotional birthmarks of ‘Mono’ slowly morph. When a piece consists of wispy electronic sounds and the smooth glide of Sakamoto’s piano and an internal harmony is achieved, the piece is turned away from its truth in a subtle manner, either by Fennesz’ droning power-chords hanging suspended in a curious aura or by acts of challenge and mimicry, all of which serve to lend the work a ritualistic quality. As an extension, the work is undoubtedly repetitive, but it’s one which is mostly absorbing rather than flustering in its palpable presence.

For all their tiny, refracted events, for all of their needling stutters, cascading loop constructions and moments of harmonious ascendance, pieces dwell in a hinterworld, without an origin or end, and are simply fascinated with their own muted melodrama, with the reversal of their signs and the ongoing trials involved in each player trying to outbid the other. ‘Haru’ presents this in the most obvious, and perhaps also most affecting manner, pinned down as it is by weighty piano chords, tracing a contemplative, slightly forlorn melody, and shaded by resonant echoing tones and distant, searching buzzsaw fuzz. Although fashioned by way of the impersonal medium known as e-mail (or perhaps because of it), Cendre is a multifaceted work whose tremulous breaths prove intoxicating stuff. [Max Schaefer]

Time Out (USA):

Decades ago, multitrack recording made it possible for musicians to work together without actually appearing in a studio at the same time. Modern technology has augmented that process: Nowadays, electronic auteurs can pursue globe-spanning collaborations without ever leaving home.

Cendre, by Austrian laptopper Fennesz and Japanese composer-pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto, took shape during two years of e-mailed files and brief encounters. The disc casts off both the earnest sentimentality of Sakamoto’s work and the muzzy sensuality of Fennesz’s celebrated pop abstractions. Stark acoustic-piano melodies are set within cavernous washes of reverb and glitch, like a shortwave radio broadcast of a Satie recital played in a cistern. Fans of both artists will likely admire the disc, but curious newcomers may be put off by its curious chill.

residentadvisor.net (USA):

Fans of both Sakamoto and Fennesz (the latter in greater numbers, undoubtedly) have watched over the formation of this new partnership with gleeful expectation: a trans-generational collaboration between stars of the ambient avant-garde. Sakamoto, who has recently been blending the micro end of digital music with laptop and piano, would seem to be a natural counterpoint for the processed guitar-scapes Fennesz is renowned for. But fix-ups, always good in theory, don't often turn out to be the hoped-for perfect match.

Ryuichi Sakamoto has been a mercurial collaborator, wading through different scenes with a long list of working-partners. Early on he worked with Haruomo Hosono as YMO and scored the films 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' and 'The Last Emperor', while more recently he's worked with David Sylvian and entered into the laptop fray as Vrioon, a delicate collaboration with Carsten Nicolai released on Raster-Noton in 2001. Fennesz, on the other hand, is the definitive soloist. Though he's also racked up plenty of collaborations, the Austrian's textured sounds are a constant. His lauded albums, 'Endless Summer' and 'Venice' are singular works, and his individuality washes through other voices like an incoming tide.

When the maxi-single 'Sala Santa Cecilia' was released, it suggested greater things to come. It's a live performance recorded in a Roman church, and the atmosphere is appropriately soaring and spacious. The nineteen-minute piece is a cogent whole; Sakamoto with laptop, Fennesz on guitar and laptop, making it difficult to discern who might have been doing what, exactly, but it's dominated by Fenneszian textures and movements, tempered to something in line with the quiet, sullen passages of 'Venice'. In 'Cendre', Sakamoto's piano lines make an appearance, drawing a clearer picture of respective contributions.

The balance of power shifts towards Sakamoto and wobbles through most of the album without ever finding the pulsing accord of 'Sala Santa Cecilia'. The result of two years of file exchanging, 'Cendre' is loaded with sad dissonance and a tension that sounds uncomfortably like well-intentioned match-making gone wrong. The distinct streams of lyric piano and dystopian electronic soundscape cross paths often without merging, barely recognising each other.

There is, though, some suspense and even beauty in the tension. The second track is suffused with melancholy through the deep piano notes. But by the fourth track, 'Trace', figure/ground issues - the piano is blurred by static and digital fog - obscure the emotional impact. The standouts are the distinctly Fenneszian title track, 'Cendre', and the weighty resolution 'Oto' at the end. 'Oto' is a crucial envoi - after close to fifty minutes, the tension is resolved with stronger piano chords and a gentleness that sounds like reconciliation.

It's an album of drawn-out disquiet and fleeting resolution that maps an interesting partnership, with all its awkwardness. [Janet Leyton-Grant]

Sound of Music (Sweden):

Christians gitarr och laptop möter Ryuichis piano och laptop. Visst påminner upplägget delvis om det som Brian Eno och Harold Budd iscensatt på en rad fina skivor. I princip: elektronisk wizard möter akustisk musiker. Men jag tänker också på alla de nutida, ”postklassiska” kompositörerna (Max Richter, Johánn Johánnsson, Ryan Teague m fl) som väver egna ljudbilder där gnistrande electronica skjutsar de klassiska stråkarna in i nutid och framtid. En ensam pianist riskerar att bli aningen endimensionell, medan det däremot finns mycket att vinna i ett kreativt möte med en ljudtrixare. Och omvänt naturligtvis.

Tidigare har de två musikerna samarbetat på mini-cd:n ”Sala Santa Cecilia” (Touch Tone, 2005). Nya ”Cendre” består av elva snarlika spår (alla titlar består av ett ord) som är uppbyggda på samma sätt: Fennesz karakteristiska ljudmattor svävar bakom, bredvid och ibland framför Sakamotos sparsmakade pianotoner. Tydligen skickade de grunder till varandra som den andra fick reagera på, för att sedan tillsammans mixa ihop resultatet. Sakamoto slår bokstavligen an tonen och visar upp ett imponerande tålamod med sina klangytor. Fennesz bidrar med stämningsskapande kulisser som sticker fram som alptoppar mellan molnen.

Jag föll pladask för duoskivan ”Insen” (Raster-Noton 2005), som Ryuichi Sakamoto gjorde tillsammans med Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai), och den här skivan spelar i samma liga. På ett plan extremt rogivande musik, men ändå tillräckligt oroande för att man aldrig ska tappa intresset eller slumra till. Man hör både Satie och Budd i musiken, särskilt med tanke på den ekonomiska spelstilen hos Sakamoto. Upprepade lyssningar slår dessutom sönder illusionen av att allt låter likadant. Här finns små nyansskillnader, inte sällan signerade Fennesz, som definitivt skiljer låtarna åt. Även om man kanske inte kan säga att stämningen någonsin blir direkt uppsluppen.

Andra spåret ”Aware” är exemplariskt. Ömsom mörka och ljusa pianotoner signalerar fara respektive filmisk nostalgi. Samtidigt vandrar ett hotande bakgrundsbrus mellan högtalarna. Det är statiskt och stillastående, men på samma gång hyperspännande. Man sitter där och skärper öronen för att inte missa vad som ska komma härnäst. Stillsamma ”Glow” är finessrik med sina små Fennesz-drillar som dyker upp titt som tätt. Avslutande ”Abyss” har ett sorgset Titanic-tema och är en perfekt avslutning på en skiva som jag sannolikt kommer att hålla högt när skivåret skall sammanfattas. [Magnus Olsson]

KindaMuzik (Belgium):

Twee jaar terug al verscheen de eerste vrucht van de samenwerking tussen Christian Fennesz en Ryuichi Sakamoto. De single 'Sala Santa Cecilia', waarop de Oostenrijkse laptopkunstenaar en de beroemde Japanse pianist een voorzichtig duet dansten.

Overheersten op die mini-cd nog de zoemende en gemanipuleerde gitaardrones van Fennesz, op Cendre (met prachtig artwork van fotograaf Jon Wozencroft) is de samenwerking veel meer in balans.

Wellicht heeft dat te maken met de ervaring die Sakamoto ondertussen opdeed met Carsten Nicolai, waarmee hij vorig jaar op de internationale podia te zien was. Zo was hij in Nederland te gast op uitnodiging van het prestigieuze Holland Festival.

Wie Insen van Sakamoto en Alva Noto (Nicolai) mooi vond, zal ook vallen voor de schoonheid van Cendre, al is het geen album dat zijn geheimen gemakkelijk prijsgeeft.

Op het eerste gehoor klinken de composities erg losjes en geïmproviseerd. Sakamoto tokkelt wat op de piano en Fennesz vult de gaten en stiltes met
drones van vervormde gitaren en zacht pruttelende computergeluiden. Van de enkelvoudige titels met woorden als 'Amorph', 'Glow' en 'Haru' word je ook weinig wijzer.

Maar wie Cendre de tijd geeft en de koptelefoon opzet, ontdekt dat het album een sterk meditatieve kracht heeft. Dankzij de langzaam schuivende patronen en de losse structuur wordt Rust op dit album ineens met hoofdletters
geschreven. De razende wereld van piepende sms-berichten, deadlines en een overdosis e-mail valt compleet weg. Een droom van een album. [René Passet]

Allaboutjazz.com (USA):

This album is the second release from Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, following their live 2005 EP, Sala Santa Cecilia. It builds on the promise shown there. Despite very different histories, Fennesz and Sakamoto have separately demonstrated an acute ear for popular music, Fennesz most notably on Endless Summer and Sakamoto repeatedly with Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Although Cendre sits comfortably in the rack marked “ambient,” those pop sensibilities have contributed greatly to the music; Sakamoto’s simple sustained piano chords give melodic structure to the music and combine with Fennesz’s guitar—for which the frequently used adjective “shimmering” is actually an accurate description—to give a surface sheen to everything here.

Of course, there is also some sand in the Vaseline—Fennesz’s electronics provide enough drones, glitches and white-noise backdrop to ensure that this never strays too close to chill out territory—but the overwhelming impression one is left with is of music that is both tranquil and haunting. Or just beautiful.

Although the album has eleven tracks, the transition from one to another can pass almost unnoticed; the eleven have a uniformity of sound and style that means they combine into one continuous piece with different facets, rather than being eleven different pieces.

All of this makes it remarkable to discover that Fennesz and Sakamoto weren’t even on the same continent while creating the music. True, they came together for gigs and for mixing, but over the years 2004 to 2006, Sakamoto was based in NYC; he would send piano tracks to Fennesz—who was based in Vienna—for him to add guitar and vice versa. Given that methodology, for the album to have the unity it does, is remarkable.

Losing Today (Italy):

Primo esperimento sulla lunga durata per il nuovo sodalizio musicale formato dal maestro giapponese Ryuichi Sakamoto e dal laptop-performer austriaco Christian Fennesz. Si tratta infatti della seconda esperienza per questa strana coppia: dopo
il loro primo disco in collaborazione ("Sala Santa Cecilia", ouverture di 19 minuti tratta dalla performance all'Auditorium Parco della Musica in occasione del festival RomaEuropa nel Novembre 2004), i due tornano ad affiancare i propri laptop per produrre una combinazione delicatissima di musica elettronica. Chi è
familiare col catalogo dell'etichetta tedesca Raster-Noton, ha già potuto apprezzare l'accostamento alla sfera elettronica minimale di Sakamoto nelle sue collaborazioni con Alva Noto. Christian Fennesz, indiscusso maestro nel forgiare rumori piegandoli fino a che non si arrendano alla melodia, non si è tirato certo
indietro alla proposta di una collaborazione col pluripremiato maestro giapponese (ricordiamo l'Oscar come migliore colonna sonora nel per "L'Ultimo Imperatore" di Bertolucci). In "Cendre" troviamo tappeti sonori che si fondono con frammenti di composizioni al piano, chitarre processate, suoni e silenzi curati nel dettaglio.
Registrato tra il 2004 e il 2006 a distanza, con Sakamoto a New York e Fennesz nella sua Vienna, le undici tracce si pongono nello spazio vuoto che separa Satie da Murcof, proiettando il classico nel post-moderno. Dalla prima traccia fino all'ultima (la splendida 'Abyss'), un'immersione in una pacifica continuità
musicale: Fennesz rinuncia agli eccessi distorsivi, mentre le note del piano di Sakamoto si lasciano abbandonare, inerti. Il risultato è sublime.

Delusions of Adequacy (USA):

Of the two collaborations between Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto thus far, Sala Santa Cecilia was obviously geared more towards Fennesz' crumbling swathes of guitar and Cendre is former Yellow Magic Orchestra member Sakamoto's turn in the spotlight. Having never been fond of Sakamoto's solo work for the most part, I was especially surprised to find that for its piano-centric focus Cendre is definitely the better of the collaborations. Here Fennesz seems content to take a backseat to Sakamoto's emotive piano motifs, revealing himself only when absolutely necessary utilizing the "less is more" approach. His signatory contribution being magical processed guitar fairy dust.

Unlike Sala Santa Cecilia, Cendre is comprised of multiple tracks. The first of these display the kind of careful attention to space and placement of notes that made Brian Eno's work with Harold Budd so captivating, or to go another route you can imagine listening to Erik Satie on some old vinyl LPs that are very dusty and crackle continually. In the middle of the album are several tracks where Sakamoto's piano playing takes a decidedly less melodic, more sparse and minor key turn. It's on these pieces that the record becomes a slightly more difficult listen yet one that continues to be rewarding on repeat listens.

The overall feel of Cendre is one of haunting elegance. Seemingly tailor made to be played at dusk, even the cover art is suggestive of such a use. Christian Fennesz' slow motion sparkle sheds the right amount of light on Sakamoto's piano to effectively peek through its shadowy dirge. Sakamoto's parts serve to diffuse the oppressive reverb-heavy glitch of Fennesz' guitar. Its only disappointment is that a few moments feel tossed off in a structurally careless fashion. But even if it fails to produce the same level of voluptuous ear candy as Fennesz solo work, what it lacks in framework it makes up for in sublime alcoves of subtle bliss. [Joe Davenport]

GoMag (Spain):

Style (Germany):

Paperthinwalls (USA):

If we didn’t let on that “Trace” was laptop golden boy Christian Fennesz working in collaboration with Yellow Magic Orchestrator Ryuichi Sakamoto, you might think that Spa 73 on your Sirius settings had some Grape Nuts-y static mixed in with the uninterrupted ambience of their smoothing low-fat vanilla yogurt. And yet, that telltale hiss from the outset could evoke nothing but Endless Summer, that apex from Fennesz. Only a few years on, his kaleidoscopic and frenzied glee now gets undercut with Sakamoto’s reticent piano, but for such an avatar, it’s slightly curious that the Austrian composer has remained floating in one place so many years on, his sounds no longer pushing the envelope but instead being reactive, as if rummaged from a bag of sound files. There’s enough space in Sakamoto’s sustained and meditative ponderings that even Morton Feldman could squeeze his cube truck through, but past the bed of crackle and interference, there’s not much for the computer to do. Instead, it is left to squirm, accentuating random string scratches and that telltale sound of fidgeting on the piano bench, unable to hold a yoga pose. [Andy Beta]

Earplug (USA):

Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto share an aesthetic you might call "postmodern romantic." Drawn to the mutability of facade, they tweak notions of surface and depth, using beauty to interrogate the received wisdom of the profound and the shallow. Cendre, their second collaboration, is gorgeous, warm, and strangely inhabited: the duo's laptops create a glittering scrum of electronics, over which Sakamoto wilts petals of piano loveliness. A cursory audition may suggest a slight preciousness, all about mood lighting and color fields, but hissing hotplate glitches slowly trouble the initial bucolic idyll. Bathed in autumnal light and composed of shifting patterns that twist and tumble as though blown in an evening breeze, Cendre is an enchanting slice of modern laptopia. [JD]

Otsechka (Macedonia):

Happy 25th anneversity to Touch! Three years old collaboration has produced their first studio record. Cendre combines 'the unstructured and imaginative qualities of improvisation with the satisfying sculpture of composition'. They've made two polarities bound to happen. With complexity in the digital texture that Fennesz accelerates, Sakamoto wipes the sound with piano clarity, just like the finger tip draws lines on a blurred window glass and makes figures.

Dummy (UK):

Word (UK):

Gonzo Circus (Belgium0:

Voor platen als deze zijn superlatieven uitgevonden, het was een gedachte die bij me opkwam toen ik ‘Cendre’ uit de brievenbus plukte. Een dag vol kleur kondigde zich aan. Geen noot had ik gehoord en toch weet een mens dat ‘Cendre’ een plaat is die het verschil zal maken. Daarvoor is de erfenis van Ryuichi Sakamoto en Christian Fennesz te overweldigend. Twee muzikanten die de (elektronische) muziek een andere richting uitduwden en die zichzelf met voorsprong van het peloton weten te onderscheiden, al moeten we eerlijkheidshalve bekennen dat Sakamoto een paar serieuze miskleunen in zijn oeuvre heeft steken. Na enkele liveconcerten - de korte liveregistratie ‘Live At Sala Santa Cecilia’ verscheen twee jaar terug - is ‘Cendre’ de eerste volwaardige samenwerking tussen de twee goden. ‘Oto’ het openingsnummer balt de plaat krachtig samen. Fennesz legt de basis van de plaat, hij permitteert zichzelf geen forse uithalen, maar legt een geluidstapijt als was het fijn, glinsterend stof. Sakamoto voegt enkele schaarse pianopatronen toe en laat zijn bijdrage verzinken in de rijke klankenwereld die Fennesz zo uitmuntend weet uit te tekenen. Spaarzaamheid is een deugd. Een plaat lang overheerst het mystieke zengevoel. Echte uitschieters heeft ‘Cendre’ niet, daarvoor ligt de klemtoon teveel op het geheel en vloeien de nummers te coherent in elkaar over. 'Cendre’ is een pure Fenneszplaat en een zinderende Sakamotoplaat geworden. De samenwerking tussen Alva Noto en Sakamoto leverde enkele grootse momenten op, ‘Vrioon’ mag een bescheiden mijlpaal genoemd worden. Toch klopt de samenwerking tussen Sakamoto en Fennesz meer. De leefwereld en muzikale passie van beiden loopt moeiteloos in elkaar over. Van een conflict of strijd der titanen is op ‘Cendre’ geen sprake, daarvoor is het respect tussen de beide iconen te groot. Voor platen als deze zijn superlatieven bedacht. [Peter Deschamps]

Debug (Germany):

Orlando Weekly (USA):

t’s ironic that it took a minimal-minded musician like Christian Fennesz to wake the mighty Ryuichi Sakamoto from his creative slumber. With Cendre, the Japanese composer finds considerable inspiration from the Austrian laptronicist, escaping from the familiar orchestral themes and circular, regressive beats that have marked his recent work. Likewise, the enveloping ambience of these 11 pieces show Fennesz nodding considerably in the direction of Sakamoto’s lush, cinematic tendencies. In other words, Cendre is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word; both artists moved outside of their expectations and comfort zones to create impressive new pieces. The result is a warmly engaging collection of drifting, futuristic atmospheres that is neither smoothly snoozy nor abrasively glitchy.

Trax (France):

Dogmanet (UK):

The Wire (UK):

MixMag (UK):

ei mag (USA):

The information superhighway, its myriad exits and transportation forms, bring together experimental titans of the East and West for the second time in as many years. Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto first formed their Vienna/Tokyo axis on Sala Santa Cecilia, a single 19-minute live recording released as a 2005 EP. Since then the duo have traded ideas and sounds in person, via the mail, and online, finally honing the results down to an album called Cendre that is nothing if not a study in seamless execution. Both artists earn performance credit on “laptop,” making it difficult to tell just who meddled with what. Both otherwise handle the workload about evenly: Ryuichi seems to lead six of the eleven tracks, Fennesz plays the closest thing to a solo piece (the title track). Both flip a musical script: Ryuichi’s piano melodies and abstractions doggedly work to attach a “neo” to European classicist ideals, while Fennesz’ guitar manipulations form walls (floors?) of subtle sound punctuated as needed, the well-groomed sonic Zen garden. Ryuichi is at his best on the album’s truest instance of duet and interplay “Glow,” and especially on “Trace”—misdirecting listeners with pleasantries that fight against Fennesz’ hissing steam, static, and creaking gears before deconstructing his part into base random elements, allowing a glimpse at Fennesz’ own buried melody. Apart from his shambling playing in the transformed guitar-and-clicks piece “Kokoro” Ryuichi offers much sparer support when Fennesz actually takes the lead. The synthesized serpents’ tails of “Aware” slide over broken low keys; Ryuichi is almost reduced to bystander status as Fennesz has “Kuni” lift off and fly away while “Amorph” buzzes and hovers just overhead. This could almost be ignored; what can’t be are the times where this album aches to be Thomas Newman’s American Beauty soundtrack. It makes Fennesz the more important half here, as his contributions sometimes fail (on “Mono”) but at least aim (on the cavernous “Oto”) to elevate Sakamoto’s above the territory of dread, despair, and faint hope traversed by Newman’s piano score. Everything about Cendre is so crisp, and lit so brightly by the glow of the musicians’ respective reputations, that it all comes off almost too polished—a collaboration seemingly resting on laurels only just planted. [AB]

flux (UK):

Musiklandet (Sweden):

Ett möte i natten

Den ene sätter färger på känslor och den andre på strukturer. Att beskriva Fennesz och Sakamotos samarbete på "Cendre" är som att beskriva meningen med livet, eller att dansa till arkeologi. En omöjlighet, samtidigt som det är en uppgift som skapar idel fascination för materialet.

Jag har svårt att se någon av dessa två personer misslyckas med vad de tar sig för. Ge mig en laptop, en gitarr och en Wienboende vid namn Christian Fennesz och jag ska vara för evigt nöjd. Fennesz har i populärkretsar blivit mest hyllad med "Endless summer" från 2001 (släpptes på nytt i år) där han målade upp summer of love-påminnande affekter med sina sköra toner. Min personliga favorit är dock 2004 års "Venice". En skiva som sakta skiftar i skepnader, men väldigt tydligt sätter fingret på hur dagens ambient bör låta. Brian Eno visade vägen på 70-talet och Fennesz tog med "Venice" över stafettpinnen. Bara spåret "Transit" med David Sylvian på sång är rent av hjärtskärande.

Ryuichi Sakamoto har inte heller han legat på latsidan när det gäller bländande projekt. Han var bland annat en av personerna som på 70-talet startade upp bandet Yellow Magic Orchestra. En akt som skapat en djup inspirationskälla för danskulturen och då framför allt i technomusiken. Han har på senare tid jobbat med diverse film- och populärmusik. Sakamoto är en sammanflätare av olika musikstilar, en man som vägrar att stå still.

Tillsammans har Fennesz och Sakamoto mellan 2004-2006 skickat halvfärdiga spår till varandra. Sakamoto har tagit del av Fennesz inspelningar i New York samtidigt som Fennesz i Wien har byggt på Sakamotos Satie-inspirerade pianostycken med knastriga ljudlandskap och svävande gitarrtoner. Slutresultatet hittar man i "Cendre".

Sakamotos pianospel på Cendre bygger givetvis mycket på hans två stora influenser Debussy och Satie. Det är mollbestänkt och vemodigt. Men en bit in på "Trace" kan man märka spår av Schönbergs atonala strukturer. Med dessa ljudande i öronen samtidigt som Fennesz arbetar in hypnotiska och elektroniska ljudvågor är det som att få vara med om den atonala upptäckten hundra år efter sin tid och detta med framtidens ljudbild. "Trace" är en tidsmaskin utan dess like och det är i den som allting faller på plats. "Kuni", "Mono" och "Kokoro" tar oss vidare i sakta mak, ibland är det näst intill stillastående. Det finns ingen direkt tematisk utveckling att ta till sig. Musiken känns bara här och nu.

Klockan är någonstans mellan två och tre på natten och jag ligger och förundras hur hela min kropp flyter med i Sakamotos enkla klanger. Det hela låter som om slumpen har fått vara den avgörande faktorn på "Cendre", även om så inte lär vara fallet.

Tänk er ett samspelt band som Sonic Youth som valt att förmedla tystnad före oljud eller en ung och nyfiken Eno på 2000-talet. I dessa två aningen klumpiga jämförelser tror jag att man någonstans kan hitta Fennesz och Sakamotos
samarbete. Letar du efter direkta melodier och fullt-ös-medvetslös-filosofier är det här knappast något att lägga på minnet. "Cendre" är till för nattmänniskan som är ute efter musik att dela stillheten, tystnaden och nuet med. [Daniel Magnusson]

popmatters.com (USA):

Texture and melody. Visceral noise or careful chord progression. Ambient music can survive, even excel, on the merits of either. Stars of the Lid’s incremental slide towards glacial string sections over the last three albums places them soundly in the latter camp. In their latest, And Their Refinement of the Decline, texturing exists almost purely as a function, a side-effect, of the melodies, in the emotive shading that emerges when a single chord eases by for the 20th successive repetition. The most recent Lithops album, last year’s Mound Magnet, took the opposite route, working directly with raw sounds, both processed and designed, to lay out dense, complex compositions that generally required no melodic content to convey themselves in full. Given that both those albums, though (perhaps through) taking near-opposite approaches, were seminal works of ambient drone, each in its own right, the combined application of melody and texture together seems almost an extravagance, overkill.

Of course, that’s usually not the case. Most music tends to balance its sounds between the two in some way, and plenty of ambiance is perfectly capable of applying both in concert without overpowering the senses (see: Chessie, Overnight). Especially clear-cut examples emerged in the last few years when the minimal glitched noise of Alva Noto (pure texture) and cool piano flutter of Japanese film score veteran and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (pure melody) collided on albums Insen and Vrioon. Alone, Alva Noto’s microscopic static compositions, something like the thrum of pure electricity granted sound, can be stark and aloof. Sakamoto’s unaccompanied piano melodies, on the other hand, are imbued with emotive color and immediacy, but little textural depth. Together, each breathes directly into the compositional spaces left open by the other, always revealing, never submerging.

It seems natural, then, that since 2004 Sakamoto has also been collaborating with Austrian experimental guitarist Christian Fennesz. As displayed on the recently reissued Endless Summer, Fennesz is also essentially a purveyor of fine textures, digesting his guitar into a near unrecognizable swirl and stutter of sound. Unlike Alva Noto, however, he uses these textures as a compliment and catalyst to instances of melodic beauty, either suddenly breaking through a slurp of white noise to reveal themselves, or else lurking as an undercurrent of clarity throughout. As such, Cendre forgoes the sublime austerity and restraint of Insen, opting instead for a fuller, richer sound, shadings of chords and occasionally intelligible guitar fragments easing in between the piano notes and buoying them up at some points, smears of feedback crawling beneath at others.

While Cendre may seem considerably more lavish in arrangement than its predecessors, those predecessors lay at a marked extreme of the spectrum; the new collaboration is still primarily an exercise in tension. Opener “Oto” is pensive as cool piano notes coil around deteriorating chords like decayed textiles, and by “Aware” the album has established its course. Fennesz here assumes a swirling stereo murmur of digital noise, bits occasionally lancing out into the foreground to snap at Sakamoto’s piano as it eases by, first as an ominous bass undercurrent, later as a treble progression that could be either hope in the face of melancholy, or melancholy hiding behind hope. The entire album maintains this pattern admirably over 11 tracks, its emotions ever complex, ambiguous, open to interpretation. Sakamoto’s extensive film work pays off: he excels at writing melodies that highlight scenes without telling the viewer how he should feel about them, and Fennesz’s soundscapes only deepen the feeling, enhancing the moods the way certain spices can bring out the subtler flavors lurking in a stew.

Cendre has its brighter moments ("Haru" and “Amorph” could almost be described as “tranquil") and its bleaker ("Trace" and “Kokoro” tread more dissonant ground, pale and slightly disconcerting), but on the whole remains consistent, true to form. It’s a narrow vision (one wonders what a slightly faster piece from the duo could accomplish, or one that dared to shift in a more dramatic manner) but one which serves very effectively to fuse, like the efforts of the two composers in each song—texture and melody working sarcastically together—into a single, unbroken experience.

Total Music Review (UK):

A collaboration between Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, the former using a laptop computer to morph his guitar into ever more dissonant shapes the latter using his to capture his piano with pristine clarity Cendre is an occasionally startling, but more often organically minimalist meeting of electronic and analogue which, like much of the ambient end of the electronic market, demands repeat listens before it gives up its true depth and beauty. If you’re the sort of person who wishes Brian Eno had put a guitar solo on Music For Airports then avoid, if however you like your music to work on more than one level, check this out.

Rockdeluxe (Spain):

Uncut (UK):

Q (UK):

Buzz (UK):

Skug (Austria):

Intro (Germany):

Notes (Germany):

Magic (France):

Groove (Germany):

rifraf (Belgium):

Jazzeit (Germany):


Culturas (Spain):

Fennesz Sakamoto - Cendre (cont.)

Unknown Public (UK):

Like two figures meeting in the shadows, cendre seems to exemplify that natural encounter: Christian Fennesz with his electronic computer and guitar driven atmospheric sounds and Ryuichi Sakamoto's dreamy Debussy-Satie, Zen-like piano textures. And what better than releasing it on Touch, the label home to the digital sound and visual network. The album bears warmth and light in tracks like "haru" and "oto", but it does descend to deeper and darker tones finishing with the track "abyss. Nevertheless it maintains an intense calm and simplicity. As I sit and write, an aeroplane flies overhead – its low drone seems to blend in too well with the swirls and hypnotic chords of "haru" which plays in the background.

BestxMiles (Australia):

The Guardian (UK):

Pianist and electropop survivor Ryuichi Sakamoto is a tireless collaborator who has forged partnerships with personalities as different (in style and aesthetics) as Jacques Morelenbaum, David Sylvian and sound artist Carsten Nicolai. This elegant album pairs him with Austrian soundsmith Christian Fennesz on laptop and guitar. The soundscape they map is strange and desolate, marked by a
shimmering haze of digital reverberation, delay and static. Too unsettling to be "ambient", it's occasionally reminiscent of the experimental music that emerged from Scratch Orchestra pioneers such as John White and Gavin Bryars, and the sound design of movies such as Eraserhead.

Cendre sounds completely contemporary, however, thanks to the narrowly focused inventiveness of Fennesz's electronics. Tiny noises and clicks hover around Sakamoto's quiet, assured piano chords. The pieces work less well when Sakamoto is tempted to "quote" too explicitly (as he does with Satie on Kuni), but the best moments, such as Glow and Oto, are thoughtful, stimulating and strangely relaxing. [John L Walters]

Undertoner (Denmark):

Hvad er musik? Det har et hav af intelligente komponister og musikere tænkt over i mange år – mest frisættende i det tyvende århundrede. Behøver vi en melodi for at kalde det musik? Et akkordgrundlag? En struktur, vi kan følge med i? I hvert fald siden Mahler har den klassiske musik arbejdet bevidst i spændingsfeltet imellem ren klang(farve) og melodi/harmonik.

Men på trods af så forskellige komponister som John Cage, Pierre Schaeffer, Stockhausen og Steve Reich og deres arbejde fra 1930’erne og frem, skulle vi alligevel frem til den af elektroniske musiks eksplosion i slutningen af 80’erneogstarten af ’90’erne, før end monotoni, cyklisk struktur, reallyde og støj nåede ud til et bredere publikum – og blev accepteret som musik. Også selv om både The Beatles, Kraftwerk og Brian Eno eksperimenterede og udvidede paletten i den såkaldt rytmiske musik. Eksperimenterne blev opfattet som eksperimenter og ikke som dét, de reelt var: nye, frigørende måder at lave musik på.

Men alt det er heldigvis historie. Vi er i et nyt årtusinde, alt kan lade sig gøre, den abstrakte musik har langt om længe bidt sig fast i en bredere del af befolkningen – og folks ører er ikke de samme. Og det er de formentlig heller ikke efter at have beskæftiget sig med den første reelle cd fra Fennesz/Sakamoto. I 2004 udkom en 19 minutter lang ep, der indeholdt livemateriale fra en koncert i Rom – siden den gang har de to komponister udvekslet filer via nettet, mødtes i studier og skubbet til hinandens idéer. Cendre er resultatet, og lad det bare være slået fast: Musikken er mere klang end melodi. Men sikke klange.

Hver for sig har Fennesz og Sakamoto bevist deres evne til at holde lytterens ører fast – Fennesz senest med Venice fra 2004, som den foreliggende cd godt kan sammenlignes med, og Sakamoto for flere prisvindende soundtracks og sit arbejde i Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Begge musikere har brugt en laptop under arbejdet med Cendre. Fennesz leverer derudover guitarfeedback og abstrakte klange, mens Sakamoto nulrer eftertænksomt omkring på et flygel. Hans små improvisationer minder både om Debussy, Satie og Morton Feldman.

Vi er med andre ord i grænselandet imellem electronica og nyere kompositionsmusik. Selv om numrene nærmest flyder planløst af sted, opdager man ved flere intense lytninger små holdepunkter, små ansatser til struktur. En pianovignet, der vender tilbage – et støjunderlag, der loopes. Fælles for alle numrene gælder det dog, at man aldrig ved, hvad der vil ske. Det blipper, det skronker, der bliver tændt og slukket for elektriske apparater – lydkilderne er mange og oplevelserne ligeså.

Støjen, skramleriet, svusjet og de sære lyde ligger generelt en anelse længere ned i mixet end Sakamotos pianoerier, og det gør, at ørerne skal spidses til, hvis man skal have det fulde udbytte af musikken. Hvilket kun kan anbefales – altså at få det fulde udbytte af musikken. Når den danske sommer nu er, som den er, er der ingen grund til ikke at sætte sig et lunt sted, tage et par gode høretelefoner på og lytte efter.

Og så kan man altid sende en venlig tanke til Mahler og co., hvis mod og visioner er grunden til, at denne slags musik kan laves i dag. [Jan Overgaard Mogensen]

Signal to Noise (USA):

The second instalment in the on-going duo from Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto furthers the purging of laptops amid floating piano melodies. A measured release, in which piano takes central aural focus, Cendre is one of the growing number of long distance creative interactions that are fuelled equally by increasingly versatile communication technologies and file sharing opportunities and the joys of modern flight. This sort of gestation is fraught with potential pitfalls and shortcomings, but the two-year spread over which the record was conceived seems to have allowed adequate space for call and response between the two composers.

The roles are more refined on this edition - Sakamoto's playing is spaced and dutifully reflective, chords and notes ring out allowing the swells of electronics to swallow whatever tonal modulations might remain. Fennesz sets the overall textural agenda, his processes and sizzled electronics creating much of the sonic detail in these works.

Pieces like 'Haru' demonstrate Sakamoto's continued ability to create visual images through sound - 'spring' clearly articulated through his open playing and generous melody. 'Glow' though is perhaps one of the more musical interactions between the two players, with Fennesz setting the harmonic agenda a move that results in some divergent responses from Sakamoto. Richly spatial and a touch discordant this unresolved and disparate piece points to progressively more engaging compositions to come. [Lawrence English]

Sound-Vision (Portugal):

Intensamente associada a uma noção de manipulação em estúdio (apesar da enorme quantidade de obras centradas no piano e outros instrumentos “convencionais”), a música ambiental tem conhecido diversos momentos de reinvenção ligados à entrada em cena de tecnologias ou de novas formas sonoras que as novas máquinas permitam criar. Pianista de formação clássica e obra versátil Ryuichi Sakamoto tem dedicado parte da sua atenção nos últimos anos ao desafio da busca dos sons que podem morar entre as notas que cria ao piano. Insen, colaboração com o minimalista “radical” Alva Noto, dava evidentes sinais de uma direcção assumida nessa busca, procurando a “razão” algures entre a identidade essencialmente textural característica de Noto e o melodismo incontornável na escrita de Sakamoto. Cendre, segunda colaboração com o guitarrista austríaco Christian Fennesz (com quem Sakamoto editara o EP Sala Saint Cecila, em 2005), aprofunda esta exploração. De certa maneira, o disco é herdeiro de uma genética central à estética ambient, definida pelos álbuns Ambient 2: Plateaux Of Mirror (1980) e The Pearl (1984) de Harold Budd e Brian Eno, o primeiro sugerindo melodias ao piano, o segundo desenhando espaços e texturas ao seu redor. Ryuichi Sakamoto sugere linhas de melodia, mais abstractas que narrativas. A seu lado, Fennesz ensaia instantes de formas cénicas. O encontro é compensador para o ouvinte, se bem que ainda revele uma certa tensão no encontro de linguagens que pedem novos desenvolvimentos no futuro.

xlr8r (USA):

MCD (France):

Rockerilla (Italy):

Rumore (Italy):

Gonzo Circus (The Netherlands):


All About Jazz (Italy):

Cendre, stampato per la label inglese Touch a breve distanza dal fortunato Sala Santa Cecilia, documenta un secondo lavoro in duo del chitarrista Christian Fennesz e del pianista Ryuichi Sakamoto. Registrato a fasi alterne, tra il 2004 e il 2006, a New York da Sakamoto e a Vienna da Fennesz [l'uno le parti di chitarra su supporto elettronico e poi l'altro, sopra, quelle al piano, e così anche l'inverso], è stato mixato dai due insieme a New York.

Frutto deliberato di una intensa corrispondenza e di scambi, Cendre riflette in ogni sua parte lo spirito di questo processo ciclico. Le undici tracce sono, infatti, estremamente piane, lineari, amalgamate. In esse, parti destrutturate (più che improvvisate) si mescolano e sovrappongono a parti dove è lasciato largo spazio all'elettronica, a libertà strumentali e anche ad una certa inquadratura compositiva.

La sostanza è un'elettronica soft, di ottima qualità, anche se un po' ingabbiata in intimismi da corrispondenza. [Francesca Odilia Bellino]

Trust (Germany):

Machina (Poland):

fluctuat (France):

Ce qu'il y a de bien avec un projet comme ce Cendre célébrant une nouvelle fois la rencontre de Ryuichi Sakamoto et Christian Fennesz, c'est que l'on peut s'attendre à tout. Un album conceptuel et totalement ennuyeux, ou un chef-d'œuvre indépassable en passe de devenir aussi culte que Hotel Paral.lel ou Endless Summer de l'un, ou le Discord de l'autre (où le Japonais était déjà accompagné de DJ Spooky). D'un côté leur premier essai commun, le EP Sala Santa Cecilia aussi majestueux soit-il, ne nous avait pas laissé un souvenir impérissable, de l'autre ce Cendre lumineux et apaisé se présente d'office comme la collaboration que l'on attendait entre ces deux génies de la musique contemporaine (au sens large). Bonne pioche donc !

Si l'on peut généralement faire confiance à Fennesz pour nous ravir, on remarque également combien les goûts de Sakamoto s'affinent et perdent de leur clinquant avec l'âge. Ses multiples collaborations incarnées depuis plus de 10 ans par la production de fabuleux albums en compagnie de DJ Spooky, Amon Tobin, David Sylvian, Christian Fennesz, culminant avec Insen, album difficile mais passionnant réalisé avec Alva Noto dont on parle beaucoup, ont-ils eu une telle influence sur le compositeur japonais ? Il faut le croire et c'est plutôt une bonne nouvelle. Le fait est que ce Cendre ne mérite que des superlatifs. De "Oto" qui ouvre l'album, à "Abyss" qui le clôt (avec mention spéciale au psychédélique "Kokoro" où les distorsions hendrixiennes sous tranxene de l'Autrichien se nappent lentement d'un glacis de piano givré), tout n'est que calme, luxe et volupté. On a peine à croire que pareil album a réellement pu être réalisé par correspondance à des kilomètre de distance, tant les deux musiciens s'accordent parfaitement. Fennesz et Sakamoto se passent mutuellement la main, s'accompagnent ou jouent les contrepoints selon l'inspiration. Quand le guitariste dilue sa poussière de guitare aux effets sablés et moirés, les notes du Japonais quant à elles, semblent apparaître, ça et là, comme des trous de lumière à travers les nuages. C'est cliché de le dire, mais avec un tel album, on se prend à rêver à un Eric Satie de retour parmi les vivants. Le petit homme jouissant enfin de la reconnaissance de ses pairs et des plaisirs de cette terre dans de périlleux exercices de somnambulisme sonore, ou encore d'un Arold Budd débarrassé de ses oripeaux ambient new age, et rien, vraiment, ne vient gâcher notre bonheur, si ce n'est l'inévitable retour à la réalité en fin d'album bien sûr.

Cendre s'avère donc un parfait exercice de combustion artistique. Un moment intense pendant lequel deux musiciens s'embrasent et incinèrent littéralement leurs ego au seul profit de la musique. Il s'avère aussi l'album idéal pour en finir avec cet été maussade au goût de cendres justement (on pense à nos voisins Grecs). "Incontournable", comme on dit.

Global Rythm (USA):

Mondale Sonoro (Spain):

BestxMiles (Australia):

Periodico (Spain):

Signal To Noise (USA):

Wreck This Mess (France):

Christian Fennesz et Ryuichi Sakamoto ont en commun une passion pour les laptops ! Et bien sûr une "utilisation", une approche particulière des instruments acoustiques. La guitare pour le premier, le piano pour le second. Enregistré entre 2004 et 2006, ce disque témoigne du dialogue entre ces deux musiciens talentueux issus de mouvements musicaux différents. Ils se sont échangé des éléments pour les retravailler, les compléter comme un puzzle. Puis ils se sont retrouvés en studio, à New York, pour finaliser leurs enregistrements. Le résultat de cette collaboration nous est offert sous forme d'une suite de pièces où le piano domine. Les notes ainsi égrenées ne sont pas sans rappeler les fameuses Gymnopédies de Satie avec toutefois un arrière-plan de textures ambient, de micro-décharges électrostatiques, de brisures mélodiques, de frottements, etc. Mais l'atmosphère générale reste ténue, étrange. LD

Black (Germany):

Rock Deluxe (Spain):

Fennesz Sakamoto - Sala Santa Cecilia

ei (USA):


Citing influences ranging from Beethoven to the Beatles, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s musical interests are unusually diverse: pop, techno-pop, jazz, bossa nova, classical, contemporary, acoustic, electric, music for the cinema, for the stage and world music.

For his part, Christian Fennesz has been a “must see” on the electronic music scene for several years, thanks both to his own particular musical world as well as his impeccable work in creating beautiful compositions for guitar. Somewhere between concrete music, classical and ambience sounds, he stretches musical resources and effects to create melodies and atmospheres that fuse classical and orchestral concepts with conceptual musical research and complex digital structures.

Their joint project has led to one of the most fruitful unions in current contemporary music. Creative and innovative each one in their own right, together they have been received by enthusiastic critical acclaim in the vanguard and cult music world.

Magnet (USA):

groovescooter (Australia):

Released on UK experimental label Touch (who celebrate their 25th anniversary next year) and disseminated here by Australian distributor Fuse, is this sound-art collaboration between bewitching guitarist/computer processor Christian Fennesz, and enduring chameleon Ryuichi Sakamoto (Yellow Magic Orchestra and celebrated film composer). Recorded live in November 2004 at the Romaeuropa Festival in Italy, just one 19 minute piece is included. Accordingly, it's probably for dedicated fans of these two artists or lovers of soundscapes, as very little information is provided in the digipack and no added features, such as a visual accompaniment, are included. The piece is a slowly intensifying, highly conductive work that shimmers like telegraph wires in a heatwave. At times it's like the pair have amplified the flux in communications traffic at a junction where electric activity, snatches of recognisable melodic pulses, shortwave feedback and the audio-aura of an earth orbited by satellites, can all be picked up and analysed for meaning beyond random fusion. Sakamoto's piano is absent from the complex equation, as are any beats or constricting rhythmic devices. There's the subtle thread of string like pads at times, but the literally crackling electronic hums and atmospherics hold very few recognisable sound sources, besides the wonderful break-up sputter that Fennesz has used to great effect before. [Paris Pompor]

Signal to Noise (USA):

Cyclic Defrost (USA):

Similar to certain museum paintings, Sala Santa Cecilia, the first document of the relationship between experimental electronica figures Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, hangs in the mind long after the tour is over. Across nineteen minutes, Fennesz and Sakamoto blend the mercurial and imaginative qualities of improvisation with the satisfying structure of composition. Born is a sound almost sculptural, without a drop of superfluous gesture. The celestial aura of Sakamoto pervades the textural fraying of Fenneszí earthy guitar ruminations, as each moment pulses with the rotation frequencies of orbiting planets. Infusing color and mass, the pair drops elliptical melodies and watercolor electronics into nearly static forms, where they flare up just beyond the horizon, briefly illuminated by aurora bursts of tone.

There is so much paranormal, at times ominous action that these works are unquestionably about something majestic; yet despite such an apparent emotional element, it is constantly hinted at in a shadowy, allusive manner. Moments remain suspended in an eerie void, where players exhibit restraint to avoid making full statements. Instead they plod around the edges of the pulpit of form, sowing hazy silhouettes that ebb and flow in waves, or shimmer like a cascade of china poured off a rooftop. Consisting largely of long-held chords, pitchshifts and evolving clusters spawned by electronics and compressed guitar, the various elements mingle in a cordial, though not always eventful, manner. Be that as it may, this trait also works to foster tension, as hordes of barbed tonality contrast with the underlying feeling that time has somehow stilled. Its only in the final eight minutes that the fine sheets of celestial vistas and gossamer melodies coalesce into an iridescent haze that inhabits the body much like a dead spirit does the medium enveloped in an act of incantation; all of which crafts a moment of much beauty, not to mention anticipation for the promised full-length effort to come. [Max Schaefer]

Allmusic (USA):

A special tip of the cap to Ryuichi Sakamoto. At a time when fellow artists are resting on their laurels of accomplishment, his refusal to become stagnant and pigeonholed is refreshing. Coming off a second successful collaboration with Carsten Nicolai for the Raster-Noton imprint, Sakamoto collaborates with glitch master/guitar guru Christian Fennesz on this woefully short EP, recorded in Italy for the Romaeuropa festival. The textures and interplay between the two blend so well it's hard to tell who the master architect is and who is following the architect's lead. The dark passages and ambient washes carry the improvisation to its natural conclusion, but not before passing through familiar Fennesz terrain of noises, glitches, and distorted phrases on guitar. For fans of both artists, Sala Santa Cecilia is a challenging listen that points toward the possibility of future Fennesz/Sakamoto collaborations, but at only 19 minutes in length, it's also a painful teaser for what might have been. [Rob Theakston]

gaz-eta (USA):

Nearly everyone's favourite laptop wonder-boy Christian Fennesz finally got together with one of my favourite artists and lovers of the ambient genre, Ryuichi Sakamoto, to put together a wonderful, albeit a brief composition named after the concert hall in Rome, where it was recorded late last year. The back cover of the CD digipack features what resembles fireworks [or moving lights], which suits the music perfectly. It's not that the fireworks fly in the literal sense here, it's just that these two exhibit such incredible chemistry, almost as if to tell us, we've been meaning to get together since who knows when. What's great about this record is that I stopped caring which musician plays what instrument. So what if Fennesz plays the trumpet and Sakamoto gets his kicks playing wild percussion? It REALLY makes no difference. With so many ideas being born in such a short span of time [the composition lasts a bare 19 minutes], while so many similarities are found, these two seem to be joined at the head. Starting off with a louder, gurgling section, we have sounds of a lively saw or perhaps water trickling down the drain, or maybe a light thundershower. Who knows? Who cares? The beauty of all of this music is your imagination must be used at its fullest. Near final stages of the composition, the prevailing sound is that of a skipping, muted CD, which has just gone berserk. More sparkling, echo sounds appear as the composition gives off its final breath. They came together for only one night last November. We can only hope this astonishing collaboration will turn into something more tangible, more permanent. [Tom Sekowski]

Aquarius (USA):

AQ customers definitely don't need an introduction to Christian Fennesz. We've long been enraptured by his laptopped guitarscapes, all warm and fuzzy, sunny and ethereal, rich and thick and totally memerizing. And certainly no one should need an introduction to Ryuichi Sakamoto either, after fronting the Yellow Magic Orchestra for thirty years as well as producing numerous solo recordings, including his amazing recent collaborations with Alva Noto. So it's pretty exciting to see these two hook up for this lush and gorgeous laptop excursion into dreamy underwater mood music and hazy glitched out ambience. This brief twenty minute piece was recorded live in Rome in 2004 and is the precursor to a forthcoming full length. A simply perfect slab of ambient abstraction and delicate dreaminess. Moody and mysterious, drifting notes and thick chordal swells wash over shuffling minimal rhythms, sleepy summertime shimmer and soaring sheets of dramatic and deconstructed melody float and flutter, shift and sway. So beautiful.


Every once in a great while, a collaboration comes along which hints at a brighter future, a collision of giants that indicates a convergence of method and music. This is one such event. Sala Santa Cecilia documents the meeting of worldwide laptop guru Fennesz and Japanese electronic music legend Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Auditorium Parco della Musica for the Romaeuropa Festival in Rome, November 2004. This is a unique and complete 19-minute piece which marks the recording debut of this new collaborative unit. It is exclusively available via this CD EP and will not be released elsewhere, and not as part of the forthcoming Fennesz Sakamoto album. The impact and importance of this recording is difficult to overstate. Christian Fennesz is far and away the standard- bearer of laptop music, his thawed sound of fractured guitar chords and warm noise melts hearts around the world. Ryuichi Sakamoto, meanwhile, a contributing force in electronic music for almost three decades in Yellow Magic Orchestra and his vast solo oeuvre, takes his place on laptop next to Fennesz for this historic meeting. Anyone concerned with the future of sound, or interested in modern music composition, or anyone who simply enjoys sweet ambient music should welcome Sala Santa Cecilia as a herald of what is to come. This is brilliant music from brilliant talents... towards a more brilliant world.

Boomkat (UK):

Single of the week (June 25th 2005)

'Sala Santa Ceclia' is an introduction to the new partnership between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz. This meeting of the modern day of electronic music with the wise old innovator happened at the Romaeuropa Festival, Rome, November 2004. It's not quite clear whether this laptop event was planned and thought out in advance or whether it happened off the cuff at the last moment. Either way this 20 minute performance, a micro symphony, finds both artists at the top of their respective games. Fennesz continuing the bright drone work of 'Venice' while Sakamoto seems to be able to fit into the contemporary micro electronic scene with ease. You can imagine a real modern symphony orchestra behind the drones, scrapes and rushes of melody - these parts build up into quite a euphoric feeling by the five minute mark. In isolation certain sounds resemble the pulsations of the early work of the Radiophonic Workshop, elsewhere the rushing torrents of sound resemble the works of Ina-GRM members Parmegiani and Bayle . What lingers most after you've heard this performance is the beauty, power and authority that gets better and more moving with repeated plays. Fennesz is now part of Sakamoto's touring band, hears hoping the tour hit's the uk soon. Highly Recommended....

The Milk Factory (UK):

Sala Santa Cecilia documents the first part of a live performance given by Austrian experimentalist Christian Fennesz and Japan’s best-known electronic musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, recorded in Rome during the 2004 edition of the Romaeuropa Festival.

Finding their way through stark sonic landscapes, Fennesz and Sakamoto combine their individual experiences with electronics to present a superb composition. This nineteen minutes overture to their 2004 laptop duet is a dense and intricate affair. Built over constantly changing beat-less backdrops, this track evolves on a variety of levels at ones, snaking its way through clouds of noise, pulsating bubbles, erupting guitar sequences, glitch-ridden plains and razor-sharp soundwaves. Very much set on Fennesz’s grounds, yet fuelled by Sakamoto’s experimental vision, this collaboration is utterly unique and demonstrate the symbiosis between the pair as it becomes very difficult to identify their respective input.

Since this collaboration, Fennesz and Sakamoto have teamed up for more live performances, and, in the light of this superb EP, it is only to be hoped that they will soon commit this fruitful partnership to album length.

BBC Radio (UK):

Sala Santa Cecilia on BBC Radio 3

A portion of Fennesz / Sakamoto’s Sala Santa Cecilia will be previewed on the BBC Radio 3 show, Mixing It on Friday, June 24th, and BBC Radio 3's Late Junction of Thursday June 30th 2005

Hosted by Robert Sandall and Mark Russell, Mixing It has long been celebrated as a bastion of experimental music radio. It covers a wide range of styles, including left-field areas of modern classical, dance, rock and world music.

Sala Santa Cecilia has been called a “superb composition, a dense and intricate affair. Built over constantly changing beat-less backdrops, this track evolves on a variety of levels at once, snaking its way through clouds of noise, pulsating bubbles, erupting guitar sequences, glitch-ridden plains and razor-sharp soundwaves...and, in the light of this superb EP, it is only to be hoped that they will soon commit this fruitful partnership to album length.”

Igloo (USA):

Sala Santa Cecilia is a live recording, like a shower of fire, made in Rome (‘04). Immediate, frenzied blur of friction curtailed and contained by a fervent underscore of sacred solitude played in the bellows of rhythmic quietude. For a moment halfway in it sounds like an open mic to a kitchen sink as its being repaired, but soon all that chaos is a saturated wash of scrap ambience. Through some basic shaky jitters and hot wires something bobbles to break free, the percussion is stabilized and the background of synthetics builds brilliantly like a Polynesian sunrise. The aerated sonics travel side to side as the piercing feedback-like singe so familiar to the Fennesz style is subdued here, leaving equal play room space. It’s a great combination, a brief experiment that literally tickles your inner ear. The ending bleeds a meditative fusion of passion and release.

kultureflash (UK):

Two musical conversations with Japanese innovator Ryuichi Sakamoto that suggest alternate models of how the conventional -- a piano -- and the contemporary -- a laptop computer -- can offer a new vision of composition. Back in 1978 Sakamoto formed the Japanese Kraftwerk, known wittily as the Yellow Magic Orchestra, producing glossy, futuristic electro pop, but is probably known best for scoring the movies Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and The Last Emperor. Concentrating on orchestral and popular music since then (with a Japanese chart topper of solo piano works), he's currently hovering around the contemporary digital music scene, collaborating here with Austrian musician Christian Fennesz and Berlin-based artist Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto).

Recorded live at Sala Santa Cecilia, Rome in 2004, Fennesz's unearthly meditations with Sakamoto offers up a densely woven, micro-processed soup of itchy atmospheric rumblings and eruptions, a laptop head to head, where it's impossible to locate the voice of each individual as they share in this ghostly improvisation. The wow and flutter of insectoid scratches and scrapings envelops and caresses, offering up a stark sonic soundscape of modernity. At another extreme, Nicolai, in his studio collaboration with Sakamoto (back in his more familiar position at the piano), suggests a gentle humanistic approach to collaboration. With echoes of Satie, piano clusters spring and nudge gently against atomised rhythms and pulses, harmonic interchanges born from the collision of floating melody with exacting beat measures. Compressed, clear and spacious, it creates the illusion of an autumnal evening, windows open to the quiet hissing breeze. In their own ways, each artist presents us with a vision of our digital future in this historical present.

Atmosphere (USA):

Christian Fennesz is now recognized as one of the world’s most apt and innovative composers of glitch, as shown over his increasingly gentle oeuvre, which most recently includes the albums Endless Summer and Venice; Ryuichi Sakamoto is essentially an electronic legend, having played with the famed Yellow Magic Orchestra and created various film scores. The convergence of these two artists has yielded Sala Santa Cecilia, a single, 19-minute piece that bodes extremely well for the pairing – it begins from dead silence, building upon tenuous bits of drones and bubbling effects, before reaching a boil only four minutes in, with static-laced loops and skittering squelches taking hold. From there the piece moves into more pensive territory, and halfway through reaches its most darkly cinematic passage. By the end one has the feeling that he’s been led on a totally unique journey, as the composers strike an expert balance all the way through between harsh and soft, subtle and overt, and quiet and loud. A remarkable and extremely promising collaboration. [Tom Meluch]

Almost Cool (USA):

When I first saw the announcement for this collaboration, I was very, very excited to say the least. Although I wouldn't consider myself a completely steadfast (his earlier work veers towards the too-harsh side of the spectrum too much for me) fan of Fennesz, I admit that in a world cluttered with glitchy electronic music, his patient releases still stand out. Ryuichi Sakamoto holds a somewhat similar place in my mind. His earlier work often veers into almost cheesy world-music at times, yet his Dischord release is outstanding and even groundbreaking.

The Sala Santa Cecilia EP finds the two artists each on a laptop, working together to create a piece that was originally done for the Romaeuropa Festival in Rome late last year. It's a standalone piece running almost twenty minutes long, and sort of a taste of things to come from the two, who have planned to also release a full-length down the road. Oh yeah, I suppose I should talk about the actual release now.

Musically, the EP traverses quite a bit of ground over the fairly modest running length while at the same time not veering too much tonally. It opens with intersecting patterns of filtered tones (one of which sounds like bells, the other like data-crunched guitar) before the two elements slowly melt into one dense wall before splintering out the other side again. After a repetitive tone flickers over a feedback drone, it drops off for a slight moment, only to build and break down into squelched bits of data. Over the course of the track, the duo repeats this process several times, focusing on more harsh elements at certain points while lofting pillowy clouds of ambience at others.

Upon first listen, it's one of those strange releases that doesn't seem to reveal a whole lot new, simply because digital processing has been pushed so far by so many people over the course of the past couple years. At times, it sounds like something that could have been spit out of any number of laptop fiddlers, but at times (like during the near-brilliant final five minutes) it really does sound like some next-level electronic music created by a couple well-renowned artists. Given that this was a live performance and their full-length will possibly be more "composed," here's hoping for an even higher level of overall quality on it.

Other Music (USA):

With a collaboration like this, it's hard not to expect a LOT. So, let's just say that despite all of two moments that might be described as 'generation gaps', this pre-album, live sampler (one song, 19 minutes) has some serious moments of brilliance that can only be happened upon (I'll explain later) by two awesome dudes like Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto. The first 7 minutes are quite breathtaking and might be missed if played at low volume. After some cursory, polite scene-setting moments that slightly resemble a choppily edited, wonky UFO hovering in the misty night on an episode of the Twilight Zone, Fennesz and Sakamoto launch into some serious, soupy bliss that arches wonderfully: Fennesz' dense clouds of static are slowly pushed along by what I guess are Sakamoto's huge slow, symphonic melodies. Immediately afterward, a brief quiet moment is followed by slow, surging digital powerchords that sound like Earth's Dylan Carlson imbedded in feedback and swirling digital flute sounds. When I said "happened upon" earlier, it's because there is a very natural connection in these sounds that can only come from mutual respect and a fair amount of give and take. Minutes 10 to 16 show the pair riding glitchy static and cloudy soundtrack atmosphere, slowly cooperating to create space and context that rises continually, this time with skillful patience, without exploding too soon and finally landing safe and sound. A beautifully concentrated 19 minutes that covers a lot of ground, while still promising more to come. Can't wait to hear the album!! [SM]

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Na jaren in de luwte – niet van stilte, want de man bleef op een constant ritme platen uitbrengen – beleeft de Japanner Ryuichi Sakamoto zijn tweede jeugd. In 2001 plaatste Alva Noto hem opnieuw in de kijker. Op ‘Vrioon’, dit jaar gevolgd door ‘Insen’, slaagden Sakamoto en Alva Noto er op meesterlijke wijze oude en moderne muzikale kennis met elkaar te verenigen. Na Alva Noto is het nu de beurt aan Christian Fennesz. De Weense topmuzikant die momenteel deel uitmaakt van de tourband van Sakamoto neemt in deze minisymfonie het initiatief. Fennesz bouwt gestaag zijn drones uit, maar laat Sakamoto voldoende ruimte om zijn strakke minimalisme te ontplooien. ‘Sala Santa Cecilia’, opgenomen op het Romaeuropefestival in Rome duurt amper negentien minuten maar zelfs in deze korte tijdspanne is het goed voelbaar hoe de twee muzikanten naar elkaar toegroeien, hoe het rollenspel zich duidelijk aftekent en hoe hun verscheiden muzikale achtergrond en aanpak zich toch soepel met elkaar weet te verweven. Pure klasse en hopelijk de voorloper van een volwaardig album. [pds]

Fluxus (UK):

Caleidoscoop (The Netherlannds):

Het Touch-label begint aardig uit te blinken in isolationistische muziek. Ze leveren aan de lopende band prachtige, ijzingwekkende cd’s van niet de minste artiesten. Op de nieuwste release slaan de Oostenrijkse glitch-meester Christian Fennesz en de Japanse avant-garde-componist Ryuitchi Sakamoto bijvoorbeeld de handen ineen. Of beter gezegd hun laptops, want hun mini cd Sala Santa Cecilia staat vol elektronische geluiden. Hiermee scheppen ze hun mini-symfonie, die niet uit klassieke klanken bestaat, maar uit glitch, drones, kraakjes en bijzondere geluiden en samples. Dit levert precies 19 minuten lang een boeiend en wonderlijk klankspel op. De muziek brengt je naar een surrealistische wereld, waar glitch en elektronische symfonieën regeren. Beide heren zijn goed aan elkaar gewaagd en hopelijk gaan ze deze samenwerking in de toekomst snel eens voortzetten. [Jan Willem Broek]

Second Layer (UK):

'Sala Santa Ceclia' features an edit of the duet between Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto at their performance in Rome on 28th November 2004 - an introduction to a new collaboration between two highly regarded composers. This is the second time recently that Sakamoto has dabbled into the realm of micro electronic, following on from the acclaimed 'Insen' with Alva Noto. 20 minutes of lush, euphoric electronic improvisations from two masters of their respective fields. Built over constantly changing beat-less backdrops, this track evolves on a variety of levels at once, snaking its way through clouds of noise, pulsating bubbles, erupting guitar sequences, glitch-ridden plains and razor-sharp soundwaves.

Stlus (USA):

This piece, the first collaboration between onetime wunderkind Christian Fennesz and Japanese legend Ryuichi Sakamoto (an album is coming soon), touched more musical bases in 19 minutes than some artists touch in whole careers. It careens from near-classical ambient studded with popped bubble processing to moments of skittering glitch beats to the epic noise washes Fennesz made his name with. Sakamoto and Fenessz have condensed their names into a single supername, and the gesture is appropriate. One can’t distinguish the contributions of the two laptop wielders. While distinctly Fenneszian in sound, Sala Santa Cecilia lacks his trademark guitar, emphasizes rhythm more heavily, and sports some of the playfulness of Yellow Magic Orchestra (witness the swirling parlor room unleashed at the eight-minute mark). Such playfulness comes in regrettably small bursts, but the rest of the recordings sounds suitably majestic, so I’ll forgive and forget. If the album fares as well as this EP, the experimental music community will collectively wet themselves. [Bryan Berge]

kumaneco (Japan):

以前、坂本龍一JAPAN TOUR 2005 決定! で、
アルバムタイトルは「Sala Santa Cecilia」。

mcb.com (Hong Kong):

這是我們那一代樂迷的有趣現象︰喜歡David Sylvian的樂迷通常都會同時喜歡坂本龍一,反過來說亦如是(即Vice Versa)。正如筆者的黑膠唱片櫃內,迄今我仍是把Japan/David Sylvian以及Y.M.O.╱坂本龍一的唱片放在一起。在樂迷心目中二人彷彿有著近親般的關係。

毋庸置疑是,當年David Sylvian和坂本龍一是一對彼此惺惺相惜、標誌著英日音樂交流的圈中好友。他倆的合作,始終Japan的80年專輯Gentlemen
Take Polaroids內Sylvian與坂本合寫的Taking Islands In Africa。然而最為樂迷津津樂道,固然是二人先後在82、83年聯袂合作的兩張單曲Bamboo House和無人不曉的Forbidden Colours(其實我喜歡翌年Sylvian在Red Guitar單曲背面重灌的版本多些)。事隔九年,二人再度合作一曲Heartbeat: Tainai Kaiki II-Returning To The Womb,是一個動人的復合,如今同樣叫大家回味不已。

踏入二千年,二人的合作關係繼續引伸下去。01年坂本龍一以N.M.L.名義帶來的「反地雷」史詩史鉅著Zero Landmine,便另交由Sylvian主唱了一個鋼琴Ballad版;到了03年,他倆更正式再次聯手合作單曲World Citizen-I Won't Be Disappointed。

近年,有一位來自維也納威尼斯的前衛樂手,他在短短兩年間有幸先後跟David Sylvian及坂本龍一合作過。他是Fennesz。


全名Christian Fennesz的Fennesz,本是一名前衛結他手,又是即興Avant-Garde樂團M.I.M.E.O.的一員;然後開始鑽研電音製作,從而轉型為Laptop電子樂手。

Fennesz在2001年發表的第三張專輯Endless Summer,堪稱得上是他的奠定性之作(唱片開場曲正喚作Made In Hong Kong);而去年由英國Touch廠牌推出凝聚著迷濛憂傷氛圍的Venice專輯,更讓這位Laptop電子樂手得到進一步的肯定。唱片的典故之處,是 David Sylvian為他獻唱了一曲Transit。

其實在Sylvian的03年專輯Blemish裡,他已找來Fennesz為碟末一曲A Fire In The Forest負責電音製作與編排,看到是他得到Sylvian的欽點。然後Sylvian替Fennesz演繹Transit此曲,那便好比一次禮尚往來。音樂交流就是這麼一回事。

現在,Fennesz則跟坂本龍一以Fennesz Sakamoto名義聯袂在Touch旗下帶來了這張Sala Santa Cecilia。至於是否由Sylvian把Fennesz引薦給坂本,那又不得而知。

Sala Santa Cecilia內只有一首長達十九分鐘的無題前奏曲(Overtune),那是收錄由Fennesz與坂本去年11月28日攜手在羅馬Sala Santa Cecilia舉行的Romaeuropa Festival之現場演出。

有別於坂本跟德國電音樂手Alvo Noto合作時的鋼琴加電音演奏,在Sala Santa Cecilia裡,大家聽不到坂本的鋼琴,所帶來是他與Fennesz的Laptop二重奏;其至坂本更把他的唯美音樂情操全拋諸腦後,在這裡所聽到只是實驗偏鋒的坂本龍一。由始而終,坂本教授總不時披露他對實驗音樂的興趣,從早在1976年跟土取利行合作的Disappointment- Hateruma,到02年的Avant-Garde專輯Comica,都足以嚇怕只鍾情其觸動心靈電影配樂的樂迷。

他與Fennesz的Laptop二重奏,奏出是一首長篇Sonic Soundscape曲目,瀰漫著漫天無際的氛圍、如雲霧般的電聲噪音、微細的聲響蠕動、Field Recordings的掠影,到忽然湧出打樁式金屬節拍、忽然綻放猶如結他噪音的Droning聲響。一切極盡不著邊際、光怪陸離之能事。


(原文刊於《Friday》 現經重新修改)

Das NetzMagazin (Switzerland):

Laptop Ouvertüre

Spätestens mit seinem letzten, zu recht hoch gelobten Album "Venice", wurde Christian Fennesz zu einem der Aushängeschilder von Touch. Im Gegensatz zu den klaren und stillen Klängen von Oren Ambarchi setzt Fennesz auf Lärm und Verzerrung, was sich aber - so unglaublich es klingen mag - ebenso harmonisch anhört. Etwas vertrackter gibt sich "Sala Santa Cecilia", ein Mitschnitt des Romaeuropa Festivals in Rom, das der Österreicher zusammen mit der japanischen Avantgardelegende Ryuichi Sakamoto mit dieser Ouvertüre eröffnete. Die Chemie zwischen den beiden schien während diesen 19 Minuten zu stimmen und es entstand ein Dialog zwischen zwei Laptops und ihren Manipulatoren, zwischen den flirrenden Harmonien von Fennesz und all den seltsamen Geräuschen, die Sakamoto seinem Gerät entlockt. Ein Klangfeuerwerk zwischen Hörabenteuer und Hörgenuss. [Ralph Hofbauer]


Far more jambient [than 'Insen' by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai] is the team-up of Sakamoto with Austrian computer typhoon Christian Fennesz. Their Sala Santa Cecilia (Touch) documents a meeting at the Romaeuropa festival in 2004, the two electronic pioneers helming a 19-minute piece that builds to an impenetrable wall of Space Shuttle howl and slowly works its way back down to a crunching comedown drone. Sakamoto lays down crackling embers that build into fireworks, and Fennesz provides an ever-darkening pool of water to drown in while being awed by the explosions - not as sensual as 'Insen', but far more transforming in its doom-jazz colours. [Christopher Weingarten]

Dusted (USA):

While a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz may not have been inevitable, it was most certainly welcome. Sakamoto hardly needs an introduction; as one of the most prominent composers in the Far East, his work is part of the bedrock of modern Japanese music. While some of his soundtrack stuff borders on schmaltzy, Sakamoto has always kept an ear to the underground, particularly to those artists experimenting with varying forms of electronica. The Austrian-born Fennesz, on the other hand, is somewhat new to the global avant-garde community. With a couple of incredibly well-received records for the Touch and Mego labels, he’s been vaulted to the front of the long line of laptop/glitch craftsmen. Sala Santa Cecilia is a rewarding, if brief, joint undertaking between the two.

Comprising one 19-minute track recorded at Italy’s Romaeuropa festival last November, the disc crackles, stutters and shimmers with gossamer brilliance. It’s difficult to tell which artist is taking the lead in this web of diaphanous tone, but one thing’s for sure: there are hardly two men better suited to this alien terrain.

At times traditionally ambient, at others pure glitch, Cecilia contains more motion and activity than is common for Fennesz. Sakamoto is no stranger to techno styles, but it’s interesting to hear him working in such a disembodied fashion. If I had to guess, I’d say that Sakamoto is responsible for the lion’s share of ambient washes, with Fennesz taking care of the crunch. Only the composers know for certain.

For the most part it works, especially when the digitally delayed haloes of tone are met with industrial-style rattle and hum. Like a blanket made of some newly-discovered alloy, the music is both uncommon and oddly comforting.

It could be supposed that this project represents nothing more two vanguard composers joining forces just to see what would happen. If this is the case, the results certainly justify the experiment. Unfortunately, it only makes you want more. [Casey Rea]

Pitchfork (USA):

Austria's Christian Fennesz is among the most vital artists from the abstract edge of the electronic music spectrum, in part because he never stops growing. Whether he's remixing the indie pop band Junior Boys, immersing himself in improv with Fenn O'Berg and Polwechsel, or crafting dark songs in tandem with David Sylvain, Fennesz is constantly challenging himself while holding on to and developing his core style. That he sometimes fails is a testament to his willingness to step outside his comfort zone.

Add one-man entertainment industry Ryuichi Sakamoto to Fennesz's long list of collaborators. This unlikely pair is at present working on an album together, and this teaser EP consists of a single 19-minute track they performed live last year at a festival in Italy. Sakamoto has been working in music too long and in too many contexts to be summed up in a few words. Being a key member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra is a career for most, but for Sakamoto YMO was just the beginning. Since then there have been dozens of records including film scores, vocal pop records, orchestral compositions, and ambient mood music, not to mention a number of acting gigs. Now Sakamoto joins Fennesz shoulder-to-shoulder in front of their laptops to fill a concert hall with challenging computer music.

When I finish this review and put Sala Santa Cecilia back on the CD shelf, I'm definitely going to file it with my Fennesz releases. There's no way for me to know for sure who is doing what in this collaboration, but the texture and structure of the music fits nicely alongside the more serene and dreamy passages of Live in Japan. It starts with the two men tuning their machines, playing with and discarding an assortment of eerie and uncertain industrial tones, then locking the pieces that fit into pointy spires of sound. They never stay in one place long, though, as the music is constantly shifting and being bumped off track. During a long stretch of small buzzes and thumps the piece seems adrift and on the verge of floating away into chaos. But then a tender symphonic drone, which sounds to me like it was constructed by a guy with deep understanding of film music and storytelling, pulls the piece back into itself to close with an extremely long and wistful fade to black.

Santa Cecilia being the patron saint of church music and this performance having taken place of Rome, it's not hard to read into this piece a kind of gothic drama. The long glitchy passage aside, Sala Santa Cecilia sounds deep and wide, like it was meant to echo inside an enormous room with dark stone walls. If I'm understanding the division of labor correctly, Sakamoto's outsized orchestral flair is an excellent compliment to the more fastidious choices made by Fennesz, and the ideas presented here, while exciting on their own, bode very well for the upcoming full-length. [Mark Richardson]


De Tijd (Belgium):

In november 2004 brachten Christian Fennesz en Ryuichi Sakamoto - twee
sleutelfiguren in genrevrije, experimentele muziek met een indrukwekkend
curriculum - samen een concert. De aanleiding voor hun samenwerking kwam van buitenaf, op vraag van het Romaeuropa festival, het belangrijkste festival voor hedendaagse podiumkunsten en nieuwe muziek in Italië. Prompt kregen de Oostenrijker en de Japanner het Auditorium della Parco Musica ter beschikking, een zaal waar normaliter zwaargewichten uit de popmuziek genre Joe Jackson optreden. De uitgave ‘Sala Santa Cecilia’ documenteert het eerste luik van het concert. Het hebbeding duurt op de kop 19 minuten en is dan ook te koop aan de prijs van een single. Hoewel Fennesz en Sakamoto zowel analoge als digitale elektronica onder de knie hebben, bespeelden ze in Rome enkel hun laptops. We moeten raden welke klankgegevens ze in hun instrumenten stopten, maar in het eindresultaat vallen honderden veldopnames, een streepje trompet en een hemelse stem op. Bovendien is het onduidelijk wie in dit ‘duel’ wat voor zijn rekening nam. Maar dat is in feite allemaal onbelangrijk: ‘Sala Santa Cecilia’ staat voor een initieel relaxerende, zwoele luistertrip die je langzaam ondertrekt in een akelig aanvoelende geluidenzee. Een scherpe, confronterende ervaring. De single is overigens de opmaat voor een verdere samenwerking tussen deze twee heren: later dit jaar verschijnt hun eerste langspeler. [Ive Stevenheydens]

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Octopus (France):

Après Endless Summer, l’album qui hissa Fennesz au plus haut de sa « célébrité » et qui le mit par la même sérieusement en danger, on attendait une suite à cette pop romantique pixellisée qui hérissa les intégristes du laptop et ravit les progressistes curieux. Je suis personnellement tombé d’assez haut à l’écoute de "Venice", la suite en question, que j’ai rarement réussi à écouter d’un trait, assez vite ennuyé par sa trop grosse dose de beauté stérile. L’enthousiasme général (!?) pour cette musique de calendrier high-tech m’ayant d’autant plus abasourdi je n’avais à l’époque pas même été capable de le chroniquer à cause d’un respect mal placé pour son auteur. J’ai donc attendu un signe de mieux, une touche d’optimisme, pour partager ma déception. Ce nouveau mini-album très court (19 minutes) remplit-il ces critères ? Sala Santa Cecilia est une collaboration live avec Ryuichi Sakamoto. La structure très abstraite de cette longue plage sonore s’épaissit progressivement, passant du bruissement à l’enchevêtrement de sons plus organiques, puis plus musicaux. Ponctué par un signal dont la texture - très électrique - est sujette à variations, le morceau continue avec des balayements statiques étouffants de distantes modulations électroniques. Quelques bribes de sons de synthés un peu maladroits émergent petit à petit. Le silence est rompu par de jolies torsions digitales qui sont illuminées par une efficace mais prévisible nappe mélodique. Combien de temps faudra-t il pour oublier Venice?

Freemusic (CZ):

Po velmi vyda?ených sólových albech Endless Summer a Venice se jméno Rakušana Christiana Fennesze stalo na poli soudobé elektronické hudby pojmem a jeho "vitální" laptopový rukopis s originálním zpracováním hry na sólovou kytaru jedním z nejorigináln?jších žánrových projev? v?bec.

Ryuichi Sakamoto pat?í oproti Fenneszovi již k živoucím legendám. Skupina Yellow Magic Orchestra, jíž v druhé p?li osmdesátých let zakládal, náleží spole?n? s Kraftwerk k pionýr?m elektronické tane?ní scény a Sakamoto jako skladatel soundtrack? (nap?. k film?m Merry Christmas, Mr.Lawrence ?i The Last Emperor) k jedn?m z t?ch mála osobitých autor? filmové hudby za dobu posledního ?tvrtstoletí.

Možná o to p?ekvapiv?ji musí p?sobit záznam jejich spole?ného živého hraní z listopadu roku 2004 v ?ím?, kde se oba hudebníci sešli na jednom pódiu u p?íležitosti Festivalu Romaeuropa. Oproti p?edpoklad?m necelá dvacetiminutovka jejich vzájemné improvizace probíhá ve znamení jen zt?ží rozeznatelného vkladu na bázi práce s laptopy. Celkové vyzn?ní nahrávky nese sice více než z?etelné stopy Fenneszova rukopisu, jako celek však jde p?ece jen o nep?íliš dotaženou "hudební akci", p?i které se Sakamoto "nebezpe?n?" p?iblížil aktuálním zvukovým trend?m, tedy tam, kde se naopak Fennesz pohybuje jako ryba ve vod?. Jakoby se starý mistr cht?l p?iblížit novým kousk?m a naopak soudobá hv?zda vzdát poklonu jednomu ze svých vzor? - nic mén?, ale ani nic více.

Krati?ký záznam ?ímského vystoupení tak sice p?edstavuje z jedné strany skute?n? nahrávku konsistentní, jež však zárove? neoplývá výrazn? zajímav?jšími momenty a ve výsledku bude pat?it mezi ty, jejichž lesk pokryje prach uplývajícího ?asu d?íve než by tomu bylo nutné. Do?káme se n?kdy n?jakého smyslupln?jšího pokra?ování?