Ryuichi Sakamoto died last March, three months after his final live performance, and two months after the release of his final album 12. It’s safe to say that life, for him, was more or less synonymous with music, and indeed he prepared music to extend even beyond his life’s end. A prolific recording artist, both solo and in collaboration, he no doubt left a great deal of unreleased material in the vault (or so his fans all hope). He also curated the music of others, an occasional pursuit that culminated in the newly released playlist that Sakamoto created to be played at his own funeral.
“The 33-track playlist features some of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s favorite music,” writes NME’s Surej Singh, “including works from Bach, Debussy and Ravel, and opens with an 11-minute piece ‘Haloid Xerrox Copy 3 (Paris)’ from Sakamoto’s frequent collaborator Alva Noto.”
Its two and a half hours of music also include the work of others with whom Sakamoto worked in life, like David Sylvian, as well as other composers and performers spanning various eras and genres: Ennio Morricone, Bill Evans, Laurel Halo, Nino Rota, and Erik Satie.
Whatever the obvious differences between all the pieces Sakamoto chose to play for those who came to pay their respects, the serious listener can hear resonances both between them and with Sakamoto’s own oeuvre. As those who’ve listened to his discography understand, Sakamoto worked in an ever-widening range of forms — pop, dance, ambient, orchestral, and many more besides — yet always came up with music that was immediately recognizable as his own. While he lived, he never stopped assimilating new influences. Even though he’s now gone, the influence of his work will exert itself for generations to come, as will its power as a gateway to vast and diverse musical realms.
You can hear the playlist above, or via this Spotify playlist.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.