The life and sounds of Ryuichi Sakamoto: a journey through time and ice

Acclaimed musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto passed away on March 28 of this year, leaving behind a formidable legacy of musical innovation, activism, and genuine beauty. Those interested in a full-color portrait of an artist at work should give 2017's Coda a gander. The film brings the audience through Sakamoto's timeline, starting with Yellow Magic Orchestra, film scoring, personal projects, and finally his field recordings.

A beautiful portion of the movie follows Sakamoto in an ice cave, calmly holding up his recorder and enjoying the sounds of the ice cracking and shifting. The filmmaker does a wonderful job of conveying Sakamoto's serene appreciation of the sounds of life. Coda left me in a zen-adjacent state, wherein I sat still and considered the sounds of the house settling, my stomach rumbling, and the heater creaking. This is a difficult place to guide me to, dear reader, as I'm much more inclined to blast an early disco-influenced YMO album at full volume while multitasking than voluntarily participate in something akin to meditation.

Sakamoto's work did just that, though. His later albums convey gratitude towards the sanctity of life that is wholly genuine and unpretentious, much unlike this sentence. Sakamoto's life encouraged life, both in expressing its beauty through music and in protecting it by advocating for nuclear disarmament. Art is as much a necessity as food, air, water, shelter, and dance, and Sakamoto provided ample sustenance.

Give "Solari" a listen after watching Coda, then consider the absence of your keyboard clacking afterward.