Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II)

‘where trouble sleeps and the light is found’

In 1991, commemorations planned to mark the 100th anniversary of The Japan Society in London grew into a festival promoting the art and culture of Japan. Celebratory events included Sumo wrestling at the Royal Albert Hall, Grand Kabuki at the National Theatre and an exhibition of Buddhist sculpture at the British Museum. On Sunday 13 October, Ryuichi Sakamoto played a one-off gig at the Hammersmith Odeon. The show began with a recording of a stirring traditional chant which reverberated around the auditorium, a piece we would later come to know as ‘Nuages’ when Ryuichi’s album Heartbeat was released in the UK the following year. His set-list included tracks from his previous solo offerings B-2 Unit, Neo-Geo and Beauty, YMO’s ‘Tong Poo’, as well as exquisite themes from the soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky, The Last Emperor (for which Sakamoto had been awarded an Oscar) and his latest film-music, High Heels.

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The Scent of Magnolia

‘unorthodox with a lot of movement’

When David Sylvian’s career-to-date retrospective album Everything and Nothing appeared in 2000, it turned out to be a compilation with a difference. Among the familiar songs from twenty years of his musical history were some never-before-heard tracks spanning the entire period. The artist was clear, however, that these were not inferior and therefore discarded out-takes.

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Linoleum

‘fear, anger and paranoia’

In 1995 Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails won a Grammy award for their live performance of the song ‘Happiness in Slavery’ as captured on Woodstock ’94. The category was ‘Best Metal Performance’. I’m not sure anyone watching the recording – with its military assault on the senses and body-surfing audience – would have seen a possible David Sylvian collaboration on the horizon for one of the musicians.. ..but that was how things panned out. Chris Vrenna had been a performing member of NIN since 1989, contributing powerful drums to their hard-edged live industrial rock sound. Continue reading “Linoleum”