Fennesz + Sakamoto
SCQ Rating: 83%
Although few names feature as prominently in the realms of textured ambience and classical piano as Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto, respectively, it would be disingenuous to assert that the duo have gotten the proper mileage out of this collaboration. It’s true that their shared work has sustained itself on engaging and atmospheric compositions but Fennesz and Sakamoto have also preserved a submissive approach that critics accuse of condoning the creation of “background music”.
If the sum of these composers’ parts has felt somehow less than their prolific individual halves, Flumina will change no one’s opinion on first approach. These twenty-four tracks, numbered instead of named and spread across two discs, would hang together the same way had you shuffled them blindly and played it through. What Flumina lacks in punch and precision, it makes up for with flow; taken in handfuls or in the full two-hours’ worth, this body of work shapes itself into an ocean of ambience – impossible to navigate and overpowering.
Describing highlights in this case would be a waste for words; each track ruminates on a strict palette of haunting ambient smears and piano that, whether meandering or building, works effectively. Once it has been digested over the course of countless listens, Flumina’s many tracks condense from a uniform and overlong sleeper into something radiant and compositionally eclectic. For those who lack the patience, however, this generous offering from Fennesz and Sakamoto should only cement opinions – namely, that Flumina is nothing more than accumulating mileage.