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Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Lockdown Uploads

A musical statesman rises to the occasion

Moon above the horizon, strange bulbous flickers of light in the foreground. This is what the screen emits while Ryuichi Sakamoto’s latest lockdown upload plays. Sakamoto, not unlike the slightly elder Robert Fripp, has experienced a calling during what the former terms “these times when things are not ‘normal.'” Both are sending subtle, quiet music out into the world when the world is veering back and forth from unwelcome solitude to public violence. A musical statesman — a statesman employing music — Sakamoto has been an active, visible presence during mass mutual self-isolation. In the past month, he has shared nearly 30 videos of subdued, exploratory sounds, from moaning solo guitar to collaborations with the likes of Christian Fennesz and Marcus Fischer. Those team-ups are being collected under the rubric “incomplete,” the most recent of which, “Stealing Time,” features guest Kung Chi Shing, a Hong Kong-based violinist and activist. The music matches the imagery, which comes courtesy of Zakkubalan. There is an underlying dread, a droning substrate, as well as a surface of brief presences, pizzicato pluckings that come to merge with the background sounds.

Video originally posted on YouTube. More from Sakamoto at More from at Kung Chi Shing at More from Zakkubalan, the duo Neo Sora and Albert Tholen, based in New York, at

By Marc Weidenbaum

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