Hear Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Last Playlist,” Which He Created for His Own Funeral: Erik Satie, Bill Evans, Debussy, Ravel & More

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.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Ryuichi Sakamo­to, RIP: Watch Him Cre­ate Ground­break­ing Elec­tron­ic Music in 1984

Watch Clas­sic Per­for­mances by Yel­low Mag­ic Orches­tra, the Japan­ese Band That Became One of the Most Inno­v­a­tive Elec­tron­ic Music Acts of All Time

Infi­nite Esch­er: A High-Tech Trib­ute to M.C. Esch­er, Fea­tur­ing Sean Lennon, Nam June Paik & Ryuichi Sakamo­to (1990)

A 3,350-Song Playlist of Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Per­son­al Record Col­lec­tion

62 Psy­che­del­ic Clas­sics: A Free Playlist Cre­at­ed by Sean Lennon

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.


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