There’s a haunting intensity and rare poetic beauty about Ryuichi Sakamoto’s blend of ambient sounds, stripped down to the bare essentials of melody and rhythm. And for all its simplicity, this is an album that is profoundly moving. His dozen pieces, created spontaneously in March 2021 during the early stages of convalescence from major cancer surgery, speak of life’s fragility and of music’s power to comfort, console, even to heal. It feels almost intrusive at first to listen to what originated as private musical thoughts, conceived on synthesizer and piano out of an innate need for the presence of pure, unadorned sounds. Sakamoto’s choice of 12 favorite sketches, each named for its date of composition, charts the stages of his recovery, from pieces infused with his labored breathing to a sublime final sequence of impressionistic miniatures.

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