Fennesz Sakamoto: Cendre (2007)
This album is the second release from Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, following their live 2005 EP, Sala Santa Cecilia. It builds on the promise shown there. Despite very different histories, Fennesz and Sakamoto have separately demonstrated an acute ear for popular music, Fennesz most notably on Endless Summer and Sakamoto repeatedly with Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Although Cendre sits comfortably in the rack marked "ambient, those pop sensibilities have contributed greatly to the music; Sakamoto's simple sustained piano chords give melodic structure to the music and combine with Fennesz's guitarfor which the frequently used adjective "shimmering is actually an accurate descriptionto give a surface sheen to everything here.
Of course, there is also some sand in the VaselineFennesz's electronics provide enough drones, glitches and white-noise backdrop to ensure that this never strays too close to chill out territorybut the overwhelming impression one is left with is of music that is both tranquil and haunting. Or just beautiful.
Although the album has eleven tracks, the transition from one to another can pass almost unnoticed; the eleven have a uniformity of sound and style that means they combine into one continuous piece with different facets, rather than being eleven different pieces.
All of this makes it remarkable to discover that Fennesz and Sakamoto weren't even on the same continent while creating the music. True, they came together for gigs and for mixing, but over the years 2004 to 2006, Sakamoto was based in NYC; he would send piano tracks to Fenneszwho was based in Viennafor him to add guitar and electronics. And vice versa. Given that methodology, for the album to have the unity it does, is remarkable.
Track Listing: Oto; Aware; Haru; Trace; Kuni; Mono; Kokoro; Cendre; Amorph; Glow; Abyss.
Personnel: Christian Fennesz: guitar, laptop; Ryuichi Sakamoto: piano, laptop.
Record Label: Touch