Composed by: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Sakamoto’s focus shifted to film score work in the 1990s, while his solo albums became slightly more scattershot. And then one day, while stuck in a Tokyo traffic jam, a simple melody popped into his head. It was something that called for a stripped-down, direct interpretation, not needing an orchestra, drum programmers, guest vocalists, or album cover hair stylists, just Sakamoto back to the piano bench. And so 1998’s BTTB (Back to the Basics) foregrounded Sakamoto in solo mode. His piano melodies harken back to the likes of Erik Satie, but with a few experimental wrinkles that also call to mind John Cage, presaging his path forward in the new century.