Glass is a is a 45-minute long recording of an inspired improvisation by the duo at the architect Philip Johnson’s hallowed Glass House, in the bucolic setting of New Canaan, Connecticut. It all started when 87-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama provided an installation at the house to mark the 110th anniversary of Johnson's birth. Sakamoto and Alva Noto (real name Carsten Nicolai) then performed at a private event in the house to help launch Kusama's work, and that performance recording became an album.
Rehearsing only one day before, Sakamoto and Nicolai experimented with a keyboard, mixers, singing glass bowls, crotales, and the architecture of the building. Contact microphones were attached to the surface of The Glass House; and using various weighted gong mallets with rubber heads that were gently but firmly dragged along the surface of the glass, they transformed the walls into an instrument, creating wistful sounds of contemplation and longing. Similarly, Nicolai played two sets of high and low octave crotales with a horsehair bow.
“When I was offered to perform at The Glass House, the first idea that came to my mind was to use the house itself as a musical instrument”, recalls Sakamoto. “It was completely musical and one hundred percent improvised, as that’s what we usually do”, he adds. “Looking at the beautiful landscape through the glass wall with Kusama’s dots was something, and it affected me, affected us, I should say, a lot. It’s a strange mixture of natural, nature, and artificial things, art.”
This intimate evening brought Ryuichi and Carsten back together for their first live collaboration since Sakamoto’s cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2014. Prior to that, Nicolai and Sakamoto had worked together on and off since 2002, releasing six albums as a duo.
Glass will land on February 16.