|1. The Day A Gorilla Gives A Banana|
|3. Bibo no Aozora|
|4. The Last Emperor|
|6. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence|
|7. M.A.Y. In the Backyard|
|8. The Sheltering Sky|
|9. A Tribute To N.J.P.|
|10. High Heels (Main Theme)|
|11. Aoneko No Torso|
|12. The Wuthering Heights|
All music by Sakamoto.
Hello, what's this? A recent work by former Yellow Magic Orchestra member turned film score producer Ryuichi Sakamoto, consisting entirely of piano trios? This is somewhat of a strange venture, given Sakamoto's earlier ventures into more pop-oriented material.
It's fortunate that the music is good, then.
Sakamoto's compositions vary between gentle atmospheric pieces, and more eclectic works. Structurally, many of the compositions are quite similar -- a simple theme will be expressed at the beginning by a single instrument, and will slowly develop into a more complex trio performance; given this, extended descriptions of each piece may prove somewhat futile in this particular TR. The ghost of Erik Satie may also be heard on various tracks on this album (with perhaps a trace of Bartok appearing in the development sections as well).
Worthy of particular mention are:
"Rain" and "The Wuthering Heights", for featuring truly excellent melodies.
"1919", both for resembling Philip Glass's compositions and containing an demented cello spotlight towards the end.
"The Sheltering Sky", if only to clarify that it is unrelated to the King Crimson track by the same name.
"Aoneko No Torso", for resembling Satie's Gymnopedies towards the beginning.
While some of the pieces towards the end are a bit too "safe" in comparison to the rest of the album, this is nevertheless a good release. It's hardly an "essential" album, but those who've managed to acquire it shouldn't regret its presence in their collection.
(I am not, unfortunately, able to clarify whether or not "The Last Emperor" is adapted from a Sakamoto piece on the soundtrack of the same name -- my collection lacks said soundtrack, sadly).
(review originally posted to alt.music.yes on 15 July 1997)