Willits + Sakamoto Ocean Fire Released in Japan

Christopher Willits and Ryuichi Sakamoto's new release, Ocean Fire, is a sublime soundtrack for the ocean. It is an intense and stirring wash of cascading tones and textured harmony. Willits + Sakamoto surprise with rare form in this collaboration, creating a sound world unlike anything they have produced previously. Each artist has gently pulled the other into new sonic territory.

Sakamoto's gorgeous processed piano sound reflects beautiful shimmering clusters of notes, a new aspect of Willits' pioneering guitar/computer approach. Together, their sounds merge effortlessly, creating seamless swells of gigantic melodic waves. Ocean Fire is available now in Japan only from the commmons/Avex label and will be released in the rest of the world in January, 2008 by 12k.

Ocean Fire was recorded live at Sakamoto's NYC studio in spring, 2007. The improvisations found their final form through some further editing in the months to come, and final mastering by Calyx in Berlin. We hear the artists exploring their relationship to each other, new sounds, and the ocean's boundless force and importance.  This release is dedicated to the healing and restoration of our fragile oceans.

Christopher Willits is an established artist, and rising star in the music world. In the short five years since his first solo release he has helped to reshape the face of the electric guitar through computer processing. Overlapping all forms of music, sound, and visual art, Willits' work defies genre distinctions while retaining a presence unto its own.
”commmons” is a new project established by Ryuichi Sakamoto in collaboration with the Avex Group, a company which provides both the infrastructure of a solid record company, and the freedom to do things differently. “commmons” is not "Sakamoto's label," but rather a platform for other artists to join as equal collaborators and share in the benefits of this structure. “commmons” was established to create a common ground, a place where new relationships can be built between the music industry, the audience, artists and creators. The project aims to find new possibilities for music, while making meaningful contributions to culture and society. www.christopherwillits.com,  www.commmons.com and www.12k.com

alva noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto Honor Mannheim, Germany

On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the city of Mannheim, Germany, and at the invitation of the city's officials, alva noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto have developed - together with the Ensemble Modern Frankfurt - a concept for a concert based on both a musical and visual performance, inspired by the innovations of the Mannheimer Schule of about 1750.

In planning the performance, alva noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto focused on a transition from the horizontal to a more vertical oriented structure of composition, along with the expansion of dynamic steps. The concept was influenced by the city of Mannheim's grid pattern and symmetric structure.

The result of the cooperation is - as in former projects of alva noto + ryuichi sakamoto - vrioon (2002), insen und revep (both 2005) - a synergetic mixture/blend of electronic sounds and the tone of classical instruments, which are intensified by the full sound of the Ensemble Modern. The title of the new composition, utp- hints at a basically open concept, which leaves space for extensive associations.

utp- is a composition on the musical as well as visual level. Lasting 72 minutes, the piece will have its premier performance by alva noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and twelve members of the Ensemble Modern on November 16th at Stadt Mannheim.

Following the concert, DJs Move D and Dixon will perform in the Oberes Foyer of the National Theater. Move D regularly excites members of Mannheim's club scene with his sophisticated Techno-Sets, while Dixon has earned international approval for German house with his deep House Tunes. New electronic music at its finest will provide for a most successful completion of the evening.

Silk Closes Tokyo Film Festival

The Tokyo International Film Festival closed October 28 with a continued emphasis on with a screening of the three-nation collaboration Silk.

Directed by Quebec's Francois Girard and starring Keira Knightly, Michael Pitt, Miki Nakatani and Koji Yakusho, and featuring an original score by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Silk is an adaptation of the novel by Alessandro Baricco. Set in 19th-century Japan, it is the tale of a married silk trader who is drawn to a mysterious Japanese woman from a nobleman's court.

In 1998, Girard won the award for Best Artistic Contribution at the 11th TIFF for "The Red Violin." The novel the movie is based on has been a best-seller for Baricco, who is also the author of "The Legend of 1900."

The original motion soundtrack score is currently available from Silva Screen Records, and will be available in Japan from commmons/avex in December. www.silvascreen.co.uk

Chain Music Project Updated

The second movement of Ryuichi Sakamoto's chain music project has been updated with a contribution from Yannis Kyriakides.

Yannis Kyriakides was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1969 and in 1975 immigrated with his family to Britain. After travelling for a year with his violin in the near east, learning traditional music, he returned to England to study musicology at York University, later being drawn by the music of Louis Andriessen to move to The Netherlands, with whom he studied under at the Hague Conservatory.

As a composer he strives to create new forms and hybrids of media, synthesizing disparate sound sources and exploring spatial and temporal experience. He has focused in the majority of his work on ways of combining traditional performance practices with digital media.

Together with Andy Moor and Isabelle Vigier he founded and runs the CD label for innovative new electronic music, UNSOUNDS. He is artistic director of Ensemble MAE, and is a member of the composition faculty at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague.

chain music - ii is available to stream or download at www.sitesakamoto.com/chainmusic. Additional information about Yannis Kyriakides is available at www.kyriakides.com.

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