Offscreen Notes

Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952-March 28, 2023) R.I.P.

April 2nd, 2023

One of Japan’s most internationally celebrated artists, Ryuichi Sakamoto, passed away from cancer on March 28, 2023. Sakamoto first had a bout with throat cancer in 2015 and managed to overcome it before the disease returned in a renewed form (rectal I believe). Sakamoto broke onto the music scene with the hip 1970s pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, who lost another band member just a few months ago, Takahashi Yukihiro (January 11, 2023, at age 70). Sakamoto was a wonderful pianist whose musical styles covered everything from pop, to classical, to jazz, to experimental music. His ethereal soundscapes graced many important Japanese and International films, the best known being Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (in which he also acted playing Japanese Captain Yunoi, involved in a bizarre game of psycho-sexual temptations with a British prisoner Maj. Jack “Strafer” Celliers played by David Bowie). He scored several films for Bernardo Bertolucci (Sheltering Sky, The Last Emperor, and The Little Buddha) and The Revenant. Sakamoto was a constant collaborator and friend with some of his generations greatest musical artists, including Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Bill Nelson, David Sylvian, Youssou N’Dour and Thomas Dolby. He starred in a documentary about his life in 2018, Coda. One of my favorite Sakamoto projects was his 2017 album async, which was inspired by the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky. His genius will be missed.

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