Thousand Knives album cover
Thousand Knives

Ryuichi Sakamoto

1978
Columbia

By the time he completed his M.A. in music at Tokyo University, piano prodigy Ryuichi Sakamoto had mastered the Western classical canon and was feeling restless. The rise of synthesizers in Japan fascinated him (as such new technology would do throughout his decades-long career) and so he dove in, creating a beguiling and baffling debut album. Recorded before joining Yellow Magic Orchestra – which would make him a celebrity in his native Japan and revered by beatheads around the globe – the album teems with possibilities, messiness, and paths generally not taken. A long introduction in barely intelligible vocoder gibberish? Check. Wailing guitar solos? Pile it on. Spare deep space meditations, nature sounds, gentle piano etudes? They’re present and would continue to fascinate Sakamoto throughout his life, scattered like seeds here, taking root.

Andy Beta

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