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Fennesz + Sakamoto - Sala Santa Cecilia

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Artist: Fennesz + Sakamoto

Album: Sala Santa Cecilia

Label: Touch

Review date: Jul. 31, 2005

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.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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