Ryuichi Sakamoto: Bricolages

Having handed over Chasm's files to 13 artists for remixes, Bricolages makes for a fascinating complement to Sakamoto's 2005 release. The contributors—an upper echelon crew that includes Fennesz, Alva Noto, Taylor Deupree, and Thomas Knak (aka Opiate)—often strike a middle ground, imposing their indelible stamp without wholly obliterating the originals in the process. MC.Sniper's Korean rap remains intact on “Undercooled,” for example, though now joined by Alva Noto's trademark micro-funk styling, and David Sylvian's magnificent vocal on “World Citizen” remains too, now augmented by Deupree's subtle colourations.

While different speakers ruminate on whether war-making and love are natural or learned practices, AOKI Takamasa transports “War & Peace” down a rapidly flowing current of jittery glitch, Cornelius's version more bleepy and static by comparison. Fennesz's lush garden of enveloping textures, “20 msec.,” is as hypnotic a rendering as one expects from the creator of Endless Summer and Venice while Craig Armstrong's “20 msec.” is equally elegant if more orchestral. Elsewhere, Skuli Sverrisson imbues “Undercooled” with elegant folk character and Hefty head Slicker merges glitchy soundscaping with Bill Evans-styled piano playing on “NGO/bitmix.” An occasional piece—snd.'s seven-minute “Only Love Can Conquer Hate,” for one—makes the 74-minute album feel overlong, whereas others, like Richard Devine's fully-realized soundscape handling of “Seven Samurai,” remain engrossing despite their length.

One definition holds ‘bricolage' to be ‘something assembled from whatever materials happen to be available,' but Sakamoto's remixes sound anything but haphazardly thrown together. At the same time, one might reasonably ponder (just as one could with any remix project) Bricolages' relevance and the motivations underlying its release.

October 2006