Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto is an internationally-renowned music composer, born in the bustling city of Tokyo, Japan on the 17 January, 1952. Over the last three odd decades, he has worked on numerous collaborative, solo and film albums, winning numerous awards for his contributions to the world music industry. Sakamoto found a particular appeal in the electronic music setting, later experimenting with a number of genres such as New Wave and Ambient. Having been educated in ethnic music, particularly South Asian and African music, from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1970, Sakamoto began his career playing the piano, creating feverish licks and innovative arrangements before finally joining his first commercial electronic pop band in 1978, called Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Some of his earliest contributions came in the form of a top-charting album after the band’s name, producing some stunning singles such as Yellow Magic (Tong Poo) (1978) and Computer Game/Firecracker (1978). Together with some other songs of the band like Technopolis (1979) and Rydeen (1979), the band is known to have contributed significantly towards the shaping of modern genres of Electronic Pop, Hip Hop and Techno. Around the same time, Sakamoto worked on his first solo album, titled Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto (1978), effectively blending in a host of electronic music techniques and uniquely synthesizing impressive, durable and consistent sounds. Not long after, Sakamoto released an influential single as part of his 1980 B-2 Unit album, called Riot in Lagos, which was known to be one of the top 50 historical songs in dance music. Throughout the 1980s, Sakamoto began collaborating with a number of international artists, most notably composing singles such as Bamboo Houses/Bamboo Music with David Sylvian and Ikenai Rouge Magic with Kiyoshiro Imawano, the latter immediately top-charting billboards. After collaborating on a host of albums in the early 1990s, such as Heartbeat (1991) and Sweet Revenge (1994), Sakamoto experimented with Latin music in Smoochy (1995) and 1996 (1996). Two years later, he released Discord (1998), featuring some highly electronic and intrinsically-decorated tracks that made international headlines. Some of his recent works were in partnership with cellist Jaques Morelenbaum and Alva Noto, with albums such as Casa (2001) and Vrioon (2002) featuring increased digital manipulation and electronic minimalism techniques.

Apart from his revered works in the music industry, Sakamoto has also worked on a number of film scores, most notably director Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983) and Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987). His incredible sense of musical direction bearing in mind the thematic contexts of these films won him several awards, all the while working on several other film scores for Tacones lejanos (High Heels) (1991), Wild Palms (1993) and Gohatto (1999). Some of his recent works include his earlier solo works featured in blockbuster films like Japanese Story (2003) and Babel (2006).

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s brilliance and ingenuity became apparent at a very early age, shimmering itself continually through his 35-year career. He enjoys singing and writing occasionally, apart from composing stellar pieces for piano. His works profoundly highlighted important transformations in music and has reached a wide audience, ultimately contributing to the numerous set of awards he has under his belt. Due to his recent struggles with Oropharyngeal cancer, he is currently taking some time away from music as a necessary consequence of an untimely illness.


Write About Ryuichi Sakamoto