Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Miscellaneous, New Age, Rock, Classical
Best known for his work as a soundtrack composer (The Last Emperor, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) and a founding member of avant-rockers Yellow Magic Orchestra, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto gets "back to the basics" with thi... more »
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Best known for his work as a soundtrack composer (The Last Emperor, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence) and a founding member of avant-rockers Yellow Magic Orchestra, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto gets "back to the basics" with this album. Of course, "the basics" here involve simple impressionist-inspired piano ditties that often sound more like diluted Vangelis than compositions from the cutting edge. But that's OK, as long as you consider this as relaxing background music and not the shape of classical music's future. BTTB was a hit in Japan in 1999, especially because of the single "Energy Flow" (a piece that Sakamoto admits was originally written as a commercial jingle). This release features one new track ("Reversing") and plenty of other soothing, melodic works. --Jason Verlinde
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Back to "Back to the Basics"
A. Rue | Kansas City, KS USA | 03/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's somewhat difficult to describe the impression "BTTB" made when I first listened to the album nearly two years ago, but in the very least I can say this: it was, at the time, my single inspiration for learning the piano and proved an accessible gateway into the music of Romantic and Contemporary Classical. For this reason alone I'm deeply indebted to Sakamoto. Yet rather than persuade with articulated opinions...."BTTB" is nearly a tribute album to Sakamoto's classical influences. Erik Satie, perhaps the single most influential composer on Sakamoto's piano style, can be heard all over the album. Most noticeably on the very French-like "Opus," "Lorenz and Watson," "Chanson," and the nearly Bach-like Chorales. John Cage is also emulated more conspicuously on the album's prepared piano pieces (particularly "Sonata," which sounds very much like Cage's fifth sonata for prepared piano which, as coincidence would also have it, was sampled on David Sylvian's "Pollen Path" from "Dead Bees on a Cake" featuring Sakamoto). But two Romantic composers seem to be more carefully hinted at: a tilt of the hat to Brahms on the beautiful "Intermezzo" and towards Ravel on the challenging "Sonatine" and "Bachata." Yet Sakamoto draws no more heavily from his classical influences than his own output. "Energy Flow," "Put Your Hands Up," and "Railroad Man" are new piano arrangements of recent commercial compositions and are all uniquely Sakamoto, except perhaps for "Aqua," a simple piece originally composed for his daughter Miu's album, but no less beautiful than the more sophisticated compositions. "Snake Eyes," the main theme for the film of the same title, was also recorded as bonus material along with the playful YMO fanfare "Tong Poo," here in a new two-handed piano four-hands arrangement courtesy of a little computer processing. And the too often over-looked "Reversing," a unique track to the otherwise castrated international release, is in my opinion a hidden gym.It's also worth mentioning a little more clearly the differences between the numerous versions of "BTTB." The album was originally released in Japan sans "Energy Flow," "Put Your Hands Up," and "Railroad Man" (which were released separately on the enormously successful EP "ura-BTTB") and featured several tracks not included on the international release: "Distant Echo," "Do Bacteria Sleep?", which features, oddly enough for a piano album, a Mongolian mouth harp, and the prepared piano piece "Sonata." "Snake Eyes" and "Tong Poo" were later included as bonus tracks on the Japanese reissue. For fans of Sakamoto's music, I would recommend buying the import "BTTB" featuring the bonus tracks along with "Ura-BTTB," but you very well might want the international release for "Reversing" alone. Yes, that is how they get you.... Oh, and "Choral No. 3" can be heard in Sakamoto's opera, so I also recommend any of the many, many releases of "Life." Otherwise, the international release provides a decent "best of" from the wealth of piano music either originally composed or arranged for the album."
Great piano solo album, from a great musician
Chad A. Lauterbach | Los Angeles, CA USA | 04/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ryuichi Sakamoto has written some great film scores in his time, and from his solo works come a collage of music styles. His mastery of the piano shows its face in some songs, and is amiss in others, but each piece still has a mellow beauty to it. This is not a shocking piece, nor is it extremely exciting. Energy flow is definitely worth a listen though, and it's likely the best song on the CD. If you are new to Ryuichi Sakamoto I would recommend first buying his CD "1996" first. His compositions combined with the strings on that CD are heart stopping, and nothing short of amazing. This CD left me unsatisfied because I know what he is capable of, but his genius shown threw a few times, which is still enough to justify the album to me."
Nice, but hardly exciting
linali | NJ USA | 02/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(3.5 stars)I heard Ryuichi Sakamoto for the first time late one night, when I flipped the radio on to help me sleep. Sakamoto was playing the scores for "The Last Emperor" and "The Sheltering Sky" on the piano, and I was immediately struck by his virtuosity and the beauty of his music. A few days later, I decided to buy one of his CDs, "BTTB" (Back to the Basic). The music was simple, even charming, but overall, it did no justice to Sakamoto's skill. Most of the themes are flatly predictable, and even the most unusual pieces, such as "Prelude," don't arouse much interest. However, the CD does have some gems. "Tong Poo" makes the most of Sakamoto's skills, and "Intermezzo," a brooding piece, sounds remarkably Chopin-like. If you want nice-sounding background music, then BTTB fills the bill. But if you're looking for something more exciting in the way of piano music, pick something by George Winston instead. Alternatively, try Sakamoto's other CDs, such as "Cinemage" or "Discord"-they capture a wider range of his talent."