New Avant: Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto

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I love it when Carsten Nicolai and Ryuchi Sakamoto work together. Alone, Nicolai's Alva Noto's ultra-minimal digital glitch can be brilliantly intricate but risks blurring together in the absence of melody, while Sakamoto's piano compositions are a hauntingly lovely addition to many film scores and solo works, but naturally tend to possess less in the way of timbral and textural variation. Together, they serve as perfect compliments, Alva Noto's manipulations skittering around and deepening the pulse of Sakamoto's spectral drones of melody. And in this latest, UTP, written and recorded live to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city of Mannheim, the pair are also joined for the first time by a string ensemble. The results are subtly evocative, and mesmerizing even when lurking around the edges of awareness.

Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modern, “Grains”

Buy it direct (digitally or on DVD) from Nicolai's own Raster-Noton.