Cendre

A 11 track laptronica album (51m 50s) — released May 21st 2007 on Touch

Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz blend the unstructured and imaginative qualities of improvisation with the satisfying sculpture of composition. Sakamoto's piano, his style reminiscent of Debussy and Satie, perfectly complements Fennesz with his powerful blend of shimmering guitar and passionate electronics. Cendre was recorded between 2004 and 2006, Fennesz would send Sakamoto a guitar or electronic track and Sakamoto would compose his piano piece. Vice versa - Sakamoto initiating a track with a piano composition and Fennesz responding. Meanwhile they met for live shows, or communicated via digital means to compare notes, swap ideas and develop themes.. the cyclical process continued right up until they met up for the final mix in New York City February of 2006. Together they have combined to create 11 tracks of satisfying and challenging possibilities...

Cendre sounds – even within it’s stripped down sonic palette – like the world is existing, living, breathing amidst its wordless sonic poetry. - Rich Hanscomb Rant Magazine

This first, full-length recording by Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto is a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. It’s essentially a marriage of delicate acoustic piano played by Sakamoto and ambient textures courtesy of Fennesz. As such, cendre (all text is studiously rendered in lower-case) is a very different work from the duo’s first release, the 19 minute Sala Santa Cecilia (2005), on which it was nearly impossible to tell which performer contributed which sounds. First piece, ''oto'', is ushered in on a gulf stream current. Sakamoto drops brief, pendant chords that fall into opaque depths like pebbles into a blue ocean. The texture of ''aware'' is grittier, as if gravel were being ground to dust in an iron cylinder. Sakamoto’s piano briefly merges and disappears into the mixture before clearly delineated upper notes appear like sudden stars in a night-sky, followed by reassuring chords suggestive of a comforting hand on the shoulder. By the fourth piece, ''trace'', Sakamoto’s melodic approach is familiar, which makes his decision to sketch unresolved patterns all the more unsettling. Fennesz’s setting changes key as well and the mood becomes tremulous and uncertain. There’s a new-found eeriness that conveys a sense of disruption and loss. Sakamoto’s piano sounds treated, as though the hammers, Cage-like, have been muffled. His brief return to the initial melody towards the end only underlines the beauty of the composition. In addition to the reference to Cage, it’s impossible not to relate Cendre to two other key piano and electronics recordings: Harold Budd and Brian Eno’s The Pearl and Sakamoto’s ongoing collaboration with German artist Alva Noto. cendre is ultimately closer to Budd and Eno’s work as no overt rhythms trouble or pierce Sakamoto’s playing. The amount of space the two performers allow each other is remarkable. Although the predominant initial impression is of Sakamoto’s piano, familiarity gradually reveals Fennesz’s contributions as equally rich and essential. cendre is a sure bet for lovers of sonic pulchritude. - Colin Buttimer BBCi

This piano/electronics duo is an arrangement Ryuichi Sakamoto has been recently exploring in concert, with ultra-minimalist Alva Noto among others, so it seems a natural for his second collaboration with Christian Fennesz. Listening to Cendre after returning again to Sala Saint Cecilia, their EP from 2005, affirms that the two records couldn't be more different. The latter was a single live 19-minute track that found Sakamoto inhabiting the abstract digitalia we've come to associate with Fennesz, directing his diverse talent toward epic computer- based composition. Cendre feels like a meeting of equals occurring precisely halfway between the two. The obvious precursors here are the two albums composer Harold Budd made with producer Brian Eno. Like Ambient 2/Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl, Cendre consists of one person playing delicate pieces on an acoustic piano while another fills the ample spaces with electronic treatments. Eno's contributions to the Budd records were sometimes so subtle you weren't sure he was doing anything beyond giving the reverb slider an occasional bump. Fennesz' omnipresent drones and crackly beds of sound, on the other hand, are central here, providing a virtual room for Sakamoto's piano and regularly shifting the tone of the pieces by several shades in a given direction. Fennesz also plays and processes guitar, and he and Sakamoto both are credited with "laptop." There's an intriguing openness to this music, a sense of suggestion that nonetheless refuses to favor any particular mood. Fennesz and Sakamoto seem to be constantly searching for those in-between spaces, where serenity is infused with a sense of uneasiness and hope is laced with dread. The music's emotional cast can move in any of several directions depending on what the listener brings to it. Because of this atmospheric flexibility, Cendre as a whole is at first difficult to get a handle on, and single-word song titles like "Trace" and "Mono" provide few clues. Sometimes the musicians seem to be pushing against each other, as on "Aware". Here Sakamoto's right hand plays a soft melody while the disconcerting electronics stew and churn, a veritable cauldron of trouble and unease. "Glow" derives its energy from the contrast between the measured piano lines and the unpredictable surges of feedback and bits of cut-up guitar, which emerge like random flutters of sound bouncing against some Chopin nocturne. Elsewhere, the two composers seem to be working in concert toward a single goal, as with the title track, which is mostly electronic drone with bits of a garbled transmission and just a foreboding bass note or two from the piano. Ever since having my guts torn out by an encounter with Satie's Gymnopédies many years ago, a certain kind of piano makes me a little suspicious. From watching films, we're so used to hearing spare keyboard melodies propping up melodrama, it can seem too easy to rig an effect, so I've always got an ear out for something that feels manipulative. This music, which is most interesting when the record is heard at its full length, seems to come from a different place. With its even mood and patiently unfolding tracks, Cendre leaves a lot of time and space for contemplation, and there is the sense that the listener is expected to do some work to "complete" the music. Cendre seems to be a series of exquisitely phrased questions that we're all to answer as we wish. - Mark Richardson Pitchfork

The first full length collaboration between these two internationally known electronic composers lives up to the hype, showing both artists demonstrating their considerable strengths, and the sum is even greater than its parts. An international collaboration of the most literal sort, Japanese (by way of NYC) composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and Austrian laptop/guitar maestro Christian Fennesz come together here, following their earlier collaborative EP Sala Santa Cecilia, in this case manage to work together while never actually being in the same place at the same time. The tracks were composed between 2004 and 2006, with each artist initiating a piece. This early work was then sent to the other for reworking, and then returned until the track was complete. Sakamoto and Fennesz did meet for live shows, but the recording continued to be separate endeavors. This distinctly modern working style had no adverse effect on the proceedings, as the tracks make for a cohesive, consistent feeling throughout. For the purposes of Cendre, both artists used laptops as an instrument, while Sakamoto contributed piano, and Fennesz his requisite guitar. For the most part, Sakamoto's piano playing remains a clear and distinct element, sometimes clear and gentle ("Oto," "Haru") other times dissonant and oblique ("Trace," "Abyss"). This is in stark contrast to Fennesz's guitar work, which is often tweaked and processed into something barely recognizable. Exceptions come in the form of "Kokoro," where, though noisy, guitar is distinctly heard along with low bit rate samples and subtle piano, and on "Glow," where clean acoustic guitar playing is heard above the submerged aquatic tones and otherwordly digital effects. The stringed instruments are not the overwhelming element of any of the tracks, as neither composer's digital contributions should go unspoken. "Mono" features electronics that, percussively, best represent bubbles coming up from a thick, mucky mud, while the title track mixes drone and piano with what sounds like cell phone interference recorded and then manipulated. "Abyss" ends the disc with tons of reverb, calm melodies, and what sounds like wind blowing out of the titular darkness. While these two artists represent different points on the continuum of electronic music's evolution, their combined effort makes for a intergenerational collaboration that meets its lofty expectations. - Creag Dunton Brainwashed

We've pulled a lot of strings to bring you the immense Fennesz / Sakamoto collaboration a little earlier than its official UK release - and it's an album that would have justified turning the world upside down to acquire. It's a collaboration that sounds pretty much exactly how you'd imagine - Sakamoto's lilting, unparalleled piano motif's rendered through and surrounded by a warm fuzz of process and soundscaping from Fennesz, abandoning the more experimental leanings of their previous union "Live At Salsa Santa Cecilia" in favour of something that's both sweeping with its micro-orchestral flourishes and engrossing with its emphasis on simplicity and beauty. It's hard to imagine many other records this year tapping into quite so many of our customers interests, if you have a pulse you'll already know how lovely this record is going to be - it's a total must. The fact that you're on this site and reading this review assumes you're of a certain musical disposition, and if you are in any way interested in the more beautiful things in life, the sensitive yet experimental end of modern music - pay close attention as this album is just about as good as it gets. I first heard "Cendre" a few weeks back and it blew me away instantly. Christian Fennesz and Sakamoto working on a full album together? Yes, and rather than go down the route of their previous short-form collaboration 'Sala Saint Cecilia' (which was drifting and sometimes impenetrable), "Cendre" is an album focused on layered harmonies and simplicity. Taking Sakamoto's signature piano work (think 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' and you're on the right track) and classic Fennesz production ('Endless Summer', 'Venice', '"Plays") 'Cendre' feels like the perfect meeting of minds - and while it might be obvious to reference Sakamoto's high-profile collaborative work with Carsten Nicolai, these two musicians seem much more evenly matched. Sakamoto's haunting motifs may be wrapped up in sheets of harmonic noise, but they never become overwhelming - rather this is an album which revolves around subtlety and attention to detail. The emphasis here is on an almost Zen-like calmness and the restraint around which the two have balanced the album is just hard to fathom. It's the sort of record that can change your mood, but without resorting to cliché or emphasis on 'ambience'; it is optimistic and life-affirming but never over-wraught, I wouldn't even say that it is sentimental. Cendre, rather, is an album that you can imagine piecing together your own stories to, an album which is primed for you to remember ten or twenty years down the line, leaving you with that nameless, warm, fuzzy nostalgia and a heavy heart. I don't even think I need to mention Eno or Harold Budd do I? Absolutely gorgeous, and without a doubt one of the finest, loveliest records you'll hear this year. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.... - Boomkat Boomkat

This is the highly anticipated full-length collaborative release by Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, following the 19-minute CD EP overture, Sala Santa Cecilia (a completely separate release which is not included here). This release features a massive duet between worldwide laptop guru Fennesz (guitar/laptop) and Japanese electronic music legend Sakamoto (piano/laptop) - a continuing collaboration between two much-lauded composers. Every once in a great while, a collaboration comes along which hints at a brighter future, a collision of giants that indicates a convergence of method and music. This is one such event. Cendre was recorded between 2004 and 2006 in New York City by Ryuichi Sakamoto and in Vienna by Christian Fennesz. Fennesz would send Sakamoto a guitar or electronic track and Sakamoto would compose his piano piece. This process was also reversed - Sakamoto initiating the track with a piano composition and Fennesz responding. Meanwhile, they met for live shows, or communicated via digital means to compare notes, swap ideas and develop themes. And the cyclical process continued right up until the final mix. Christian Fennesz is far and away the standard-bearer of laptop music, his thawed sound of fractured guitar chords and warm noise melts hearts around the world. Ryuichi Sakamoto, meanwhile, has been a contributing force in electronic music for almost three decades in Yellow Magic Orchestra, not to mention his vast solo oeuvre. This remarkable duo blends the unstructured and imaginative qualities of improvisation with the satisfying sculpture of composition. Sakamoto's piano, his style reminiscent of Debussy and Satie, perfectly complements Fennesz with his powerful blend of shimmering guitar and passionate electronics. Together they have combined to create 11 tracks of satisfying and challenging possibilities. - Ear Rational Ear Rational

The impetus behind Cendre, the new full-length studio session between Japanese classical pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto and Austrian glitch guitar impresario Christian Fennesz, is 2005’s Sala Santa Cecilia, the 20-minute live EP recorded at an Italian festival. Ever since, a repeat performance has been highly anticipated and, with Cendre, those who’ve been waiting for these two to release more material together can breathe a sigh of relief because Cendre is as good, if not better, than the EP that preceded it. Of course, Fennesz fans should approach this album with a grain of salt. Much like Ryuichi Sakamoto’s collaborations with Carsten Nicolai, Cendre is very much a classical piano album that has Fennesz filling out the background with ambient guitarscapes. And, to his credit, Sakamoto has been more willing than any other established classical composer (where are you, Philip Glass?) to engage the new generation of electronic classicists. The results have revitalised his career and introduced his catalogue to an entirely new demographic. That said, Fennesz fans will find here the musician’s warmest and most approachable work to date since Endless Summer, even though it does not constitute his most ambitious. An inspiring album, Cendre is filled with beautiful passages, even though it’s not as inspired a collaboration as some would have hoped. - Dimitri Nasrallah Exclaim

A willfully disconnected piece of music achieved by global disconnection, Cendre is a true airmail special. Christian Fennesz sticks with his usual panoply: guitar and laptop; Ryuichi Sakamoto likewise with laptop and piano. As is often the case, Fennesz's guitar sounds nothing like strings, wood and electricity. He might as well be bowing a steel snow-shovel. Sakamoto resists artful manipulation, though, leaving the ivories wholly intact to create a lovely unification between organic and inorganic sound, a subtle jarring trick that comes off as painterly disguise. Cendre is a wide white brushstroke over a palimpsest of cray-pas’d peonies. Both laptops work fervently, but with that sort of chilly stoicism held by keys and hardware that quietly beg for warm human input. The color achieved by electronic tinkering is spring-like; their explosive tones are embellished and slowly erased of their hues by a piano that is at once friendly and pryingly invasive. Sakamoto rightly – and successfully – stays within the close margins of Satie’s minimalism, occasionally drifting into environs sparsely populated (see “Trace” for its spidery and often atonal couplets reminiscent of Cornelius Cardew’s early work at the keys). Fennesz’s macrocosmic washes don’t ever collide with Sakamoto’s wincing fragility; they work as subtext, allowing the listener to shift focus between a narrative that could have resembled two ships passing in the night in clumsier hands. Their success with long-distance “improv” isn’t exactly startling: Fennesz and Sakamoto have had plenty of time to feel each other out and absorb individual languages and processes since getting together in 2004. Whatever is “gleaned” from this music is user dependent. Meaning is everywhere and nowhere. Impressions could – and should – range from gentle, impassioned fucking to the discovery of a body in full rigor to the taking of a bull moose from 300 yards away. This is definitively an emotional music, built of expressive and subtly ponderous layers with able and careful hands, and, like the foreshadowing offered by its title, ultimately reduced to the nothingness of ash – created and destroyed, with only the unidentifiable rubble of ruin to prove that it ever existed in the first place. - Stewart Voegtlin Dusted

When vanguard musicians of different generations decide to collaborate the results can vary wildly. ryuichi sakamato has helped define avant garde music in japan for about three decades, and the one-time member of yellow magic orchestra has waded into the microsound post-mille plateaux waters in recent years through collaborations with carsten nicolai. i never found (vrioon (2003) and insen (2005)) that engaging as they don't sound particularly synergistic. for me the outcome of these encounters has been less than the sum of its parts (as i love both of their solo work). so when i heard that sakamoto was to release a collaborative album with christian fennesz i was a bit hesitant about the project, but still made a point of tracking it down. fennesz, of course, is the alchemist who weaves tapestries of distorted tectonics and numerous varieties of soul nurturing warm fuzz. fennesz's 2001 endless summer is undoubtedly one of my favourite records of the last decade, and i've enjoyed his subsequent work. so what happens when this world of processed guitar meets sakamoto's melancholic piano composition? the concise answer would be brilliance. the album has a depth and emotional resonance the likes of which i have not encountered for a while. beyond that it is downright eerie how complementary fennesz and sakamoto's aesthetics are. sakamoto is known for the stoic, restrained handling of the keyboard but when fennesz is added to the equation the mix becomes magical. - Rough Trade Rough Trade

At first blush, the computer-bleated guitar drones of Christian Fennesz mirror, in a dreamy manner, the rise and fall of Sakamoto’s rolling piano chords and gentle note-runs. Quite apart from the pairs first effort, which seemed all but trapped in Fennesz’ serrated nest, Cendre initially seems to bear out Sakamoto’s fluid, sweeping signature and, as such, may perhaps be likened to a warped Satie pastiche. Successive sojourns through the album makes apparent that more of a spiderweb logic is at play here, though. The contours and emotional birthmarks of ‘Mono’ slowly morph. When a piece consists of wispy electronic sounds and the smooth glide of Sakamoto’s piano and an internal harmony is achieved, the piece is turned away from its truth in a subtle manner, either by Fennesz’ droning power-chords hanging suspended in a curious aura or by acts of challenge and mimicry, all of which serve to lend the work a ritualistic quality. As an extension, the work is undoubtedly repetitive, but it’s one which is mostly absorbing rather than flustering in its palpable presence. For all their tiny, refracted events, for all of their needling stutters, cascading loop constructions and moments of harmonious ascendance, pieces dwell in a hinterworld, without an origin or end, and are simply fascinated with their own muted melodrama, with the reversal of their signs and the ongoing trials involved in each player trying to outbid the other. ‘Haru’ presents this in the most obvious, and perhaps also most affecting manner, pinned down as it is by weighty piano chords, tracing a contemplative, slightly forlorn melody, and shaded by resonant echoing tones and distant, searching buzzsaw fuzz. Although fashioned by way of the impersonal medium known as e-mail (or perhaps because of it), Cendre is a multifaceted work whose tremulous breaths prove intoxicating stuff. - Max Schaefer Cyclic Defrost

  • Kudos happily ship all items worldwide.
  • Shipping costs and delivery times are available here.
  • UK items are sent tracked as standard at no extra cost.
  • We aim to dispatch orders placed before 2pm on the same day.
  • We are unable to ship orders on weekends or Bank Holidays.
  • If you purchase a pre-order item amongst an order of in-stock releases, we will typically hold your order until all items are in ready to send.
  • Although we use all reasonable means to ensure that your order is delivered within a specified time, we cannot accept any responsibility for late deliveries due to circumstances outside of our control. We will do our best to inform you of any unexpected delay.