12 album cover

Ryuichi Sakamoto


At the height of the pandemic, Sakamoto’s cancer returned and he was given a grim prognosis. In the face of his own mortality, Sakamoto did what he has done throughout his career: go into the studio with a workman-like diligence to record what would be his last album. Utilizing piano and synthesizer and the very air surrounding each sound, 12 serves as an aching summation of his greatest attributes as an artist: a rigorous minimalism that sets every gesture in its most resonant place, the ability to turn every sound into something as evocative as a melody, a mindfulness of space, an uncanny ability to make the human and mechanical co-exist as one. It’s a man at a piano bench, making his final gestures on his instrument, every pained breath and halting silence experienced by the listener. A bittersweet capstone to a singular career.

Andy Beta

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