Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final performance to be released as posthumous album, ‘Opus’

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final performance to be released as posthumous album, ‘Opus’

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final live performances are to be posthumously released in the form of a new album, ‘Opus’.

Overseen by Milan Records and the estate of the late Japanese artist, the album is comprised of live recordings from a series of performances which took place at Tokyo’s NHK 509 Studio in late 2022.

Though the performances happened without an audience, and were spread across a number of days as Sakamoto was too ill by then to play for long periods of time, the artist was keen to produce one final series of recordings. He passed away in March 2023 following a multi-year battle with cancer.

The album will be released in immersive Dolby Atmos sound, and features piano renditions of a number of songs from across Sakamoto’s discography, including film scores, work with Yellow Magic Orchestra and more recent material.

It is accompanied by a documentary film featuring the final series of live performances, directed by Sakamoto’s son, Neo Sora. The film is available for streaming exclusively now via the Criterion Channel, and previously debuted in cinemas earlier this year.

In a statement shared about ‘Opus’ shortly after he recorded it, Sakamoto said: “The project was conceived as a way to record my performances – while I was still able to perform – in a way that is worth preserving for the future. In some sense, while thinking of this as my last opportunity to perform, I also felt that I was able to break new ground.

“Simply playing a few songs a day with a lot of concentration was all I could muster at this point in my life. Perhaps due to the exertion, I felt utterly hollow afterwards, and my condition worsened for about a month. Even so, I feel relieved that I was able to record before my death – a performance that I was satisfied with.”

The album will be released by Milan Records on Friday, 9th August. You can listen to the ‘Opus’ rendition of the Yellow Magic Orchestra classic ‘Tong Poo’ below.

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