Thousand Knives Of by Ryuichi Sakamoto

A timely re-issue of the first solo album from the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. 'Thousand Knives Of' was originally released back in 1978, when Sakamoto was still in the equally groundbreaking Yellow Magic Orchestra, and established a blueprint for both artists going forward. Notably, this is the first time that the record is being released on vinyl outside of Japan. 

Vinyl LP £25.18 WWSLP24

Reissue LP on WEWANTSOUNDS incl. obi strip + 4-page booklet insert.

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CD £13.49 WWSCD24


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Thousand Knives Of by Ryuichi Sakamoto
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7/10 Fred MG 07 November 2019

In 2019 it’s normal to hear records that are post-genre. Many contemporary artists stew up sounds that draw from a wide range of sonic lineages - if anything, it’s now just as surprising when you hear new music that resolutely sticks to one pre-established style. 

This very much wasn’t the case in 1978. While the popular musical landscape was just beginning to embrace stylistic cross-pollination with the advent of post-punk and industrial music, the general practice was for acts to incorporate external influences into a core style rather than exist in a space between.

In this light Ryuichi Sakamoto’s debut LP ‘Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto’ becomes even more strange - and even more important - than it first appears. Tracks like ‘Thousand Knives’ and ‘The End Of Asia’ nod to what electronic composers like Jean-Michel Jarre were doing at the time, but Sakamoto’s is a far more quixotic voice. While rhythmically buoyant, Sakamoto’s piling-on of unusual tones and asides has something in common with the pulling-the-rug-out-from-underneath-you tactics of Throbbing Gristle as it flat-foots the listener with chipper timbres, alien synth sounds or a guitar solo bussed in from leftfield.

In the sense that it presents a series of very distinct tracks in quick succession, the album’s mid-section perhaps best captures Sakamoto’s aesthetic at the time. ‘Island Of Woods’ is a painterly and discordant bit of sonic soundscaping, but the way this melts into ‘Grasshoppers’ - a precursor to the pared-back piano music Sakamoto would later become famous for - and the knowingly-Krautish ‘Das Neue Japanische Elektronische Volkslied’ is really very different to what others were even attempting in the late 70s. Indeed, while Sakamoto is Japanese rather than German, a Krautrock lens might be the best way to see 'Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto' - embracing new technologies, forms and compositional methods, leaving the rest of the world playing catch-up.



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