Fennesz + Sakamoto Fennesz + SakamotoFlumina
A release we didn't expect at this time of year (for now, only available in Japan while we're waiting for the Touch label to release it in the rest of the world), “Flumina”, a double CD featuring all new material, recovers one of the most promising and exciting artistic collaborations of the present experimental scene. I say promising, because, while Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz already shared a studio on two previous occasions, the album “Cendre” and the EP “Sala Santa Cecilia”, plus the odd live performance, the feeling both releases left behind is that the best is yet to come. While the tandem formed by the Japanese pianist and Alva Nota does seem to have reached its peak, the Sakamoto-Fennesz alliance still has much to give.
In that sense, “Flumina” already suggests many more things, most of them interesting, than, for example, “Cendre”. They still sound a bit alien to each other, as if the interaction between the two of them still needs to reach its full potential, and this translates into a very respectful formula in which neither seems to want to take the centre stage in order to not step on the other one's toes. And I also suspect that with Alva Noto, Sakamoto feels more free and able to improvise as he pleases, while in this case his action radius seems limited. But even so, the project sounds warmer, more intense and deeper, as if the shyness were fading little by little and they were finding the ideal crossroads of the two philosophies.
Fennesz is more present than Noto, for example, and he takes on a very active role. His clouds of dissipated noise are the backdrop but also the central motive of the songs, setting his tone and pace, wrapping them carefully. And it's in the middle of his gassy parts where Sakamoto's piano appears, subtle and candid as usual. A Sakamoto who might be less adventurous and exploring than on “Vrioon” and “Summvs”, but more melancholic and sensitive, as if he were sacrificing the improvisational spirit of those projects in favour of a more emotive effect. Directly or indirectly, whether it has been of influence or not, whether the recording of the record coincided with the events or not, the 11th March tragedy is always very present in the afflicted scores, which reveal a turbid atmosphere, tense, intensely sad. And that's how “Flumina” ends up winning the listener over. In spite of the excessive duration and, maybe as a consequence of the first, the monotony of the contents, which requires measured and conscious listening, its emotional power is such that it makes the album the duo's most solid and convincing effort to date.