- Audio CD (18 Sept. 2000)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: The Leaf Label
- ASIN: B00004Y1VK
- Other Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,581 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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"So exquisite you're almost afraid to touch it in case it breaks. Sakura's message is clear: listen up, mortals, and learn some fucking humility" Muzik, 4/5
"Intelligence, subtlety, insinuation - these are the elements that Yokota prizes most highly" NME, 8/10 and Pick of The Month
"In the grand tradition of Japanese minimalism, Yokota's supremely ambient sound odysseys beguile and delight, moving ever-so-slowly towards their gentle climaxes with gorgeous precision" The Face
"A stunningly beautiful record.....Susumu Yokota continues to show himself as one of the most gifted producers on the planet, and, not before time, the early works of Eno and Aphex Twin have been joined on their pedestal" Wax, 10/10, Abstract Album Of The Month
"Powerfully emotional...music that seeps into your bones... Sakura bears comparison with Eno's finest 70s recordings" The Mix, 9/10
"His ability to create blissfully enchanting music has been compared to that of Brian Eno... Fantastic sounds to immerse yourself in completely" DJ, 8/10
"Pretty much flawless" The Sunday Times
"An exquisitely chilled delight" Q, 4/5
"Cool, calm and collected, Sakura is the most well-chilled album of the year" The Independent
"Yokota manages to make the finest soul-soothing music out there. Incredible." Level
"Truly amazing, a perfectly poised amalgam of easygoing chillout and laidback warmth" The Wire
"God-like genius" Sleazenation
"Fragrant... delicate... intoxicating music" iDJ, 4/5
"Sakura floats and provokes, but the intricate view is never obscured by fluffy clouds" The Guardian
"It's the sheer physical and intellectual power that stays with you" Mojo
"Captivating enough to rank alongside any of Brian Eno's Music For... classics. There's a rare delicacy on offer that's overwhelmingly emotional. You'll never think the same way about ambient music again" amazon.co.uk
"Sakura is a revelation. The music on this superlative album is warm, otherworldly and deeply soulful" muse.ie
"Yokota is a master of understatement, using a voice that whispers but which rings out with the clarity of its distinct, masterful command and sheer melodic confidence. Words merely banalize the beauty of this recording. Go and listen" Motion
"gorgeous and essential" Overload
"One of the albums of the year" Ben Wilcox, Straight No Chaser
Ambient music. Just leave the fridge on for an hour, put microphone close by, record and release in nicely packaged artwork. That's what the cynics would say. They've clearly never been anywhere near Sakura. While Japan's Susumu Yokota is better known for leftfield techno and weird-beard house, this venture into the world of chilled-out soundscaping is captivating enough to rank alongside any of Brian Eno's Music For... classics. Tapping into the spirit of Eno's 1970's experimentalism (think My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts), tracks like the Afro-tinged "Uchu Tanjyo" and "Hisen" capture the sound of global drifting beautifully. The pace throughout (apart from the jazzed-up "Naminote" and Moroder-ish "Hogoromo") is metronomic, but never soporific. On "Saku" and the celestial "Kirakiraboshi", there's a rare delicacy on offer that's overwhelmingly emotional. You'll never think the same way about ambient music again.--Calvin Bush
Top customer reviews
To describe the tracks as chillout music would be crass in the extreme, as there's a mixture of styles here ranging from dreamy synth-driven works ('Saku'), through mellow techno (the awesome 'Genshi') right up to the full-on jazz-style noodling of 'Naminote'. Even so, the end results are blissful, almost organic sounding and in some cases deeply moving. Apparently Yokota has a fairly strong reputation as a producer, and on the strength of this work it's not difficult to understand why.
Comparisons between 'Sakura' and the early work of Brian Eno are justified too. Like some of Eno's earlier albums, 'Sakura' can be a bit hard to swallow in one go, at least initially. However perseverance pays off and, to be perfectly honest, I can't think of a better album to listen to with the lights turned low - not a mood-lifting album by any means, but certainly mood provoking, and that can't be bad.
To consider Susumu Yokota as an underrated genius isn't wide of the mark.
Unlike Aphex Twin's Ambient Works, there is little disparity of mood in this album. Whereas Aphex's work can shift from mesmeric beauty to the paranoid and nightmarish, Yokota's work presents a smoother listening experience, taking some of the aforementioned artist's stellar beauty and mixing it with the synth-rich warmth and playfulness of Air. Indeed, where Aphex's melodies would drift for the best part of ten minutes, Yokota involves livelier and more vivified arrangements that are in a constant process of evolution, gradually filtering in and out beautiful sounds, continuing others; for instance, the end of 'Tobiume' sees a mellifluous, reverbed guitar cleanly picking in the background: the effect is similar to Air's 'Walkie Talkie' album, yet in the hands of a master like Yokota, you are barely aware of the addition. As a result, 'Sakura' consistently represents an organic, natural experience, pleasingly removed from the austere, esoteric atmosphere of Ambient Works Volume II.
Other songs try and test the parameters of ambient to its limits. 'Uchu Tanjyo' brings some clattering, tribal beats to the sonic table, hatching a bubbling, tremeloed bass to their rhythm as a voice rambles over it all: the effect is interesting, but it is one of the lesser lights on this bright album, although in the context of the sonic landscape, you do feel as though this is just another of the surprises on Yokota's island - signs of life perhaps.
'Genshi' begins with a sinuous, burbling bass that threatens to at any point lift of into the realms of one of Yokota's house excursions; however, despite the insistent pace, a slow organ melody and backing strings are imposed on the rhythm, engendering the sense of watching the world go by from the train, that feeling of stasis and movement combined. It demonstrates the feeling of adventure in this work, even more so Yokota's dexterity in marrying disparate tempos to form a cohesive texture.
The end to this album is slightly disappointing, however. ‘Kirakiraboshi’ features some lovely twinkling melodies but ultimately lacks the strength of composition that is found in earlier tracks such as ‘Hisen’, as after a couple of minutes it fizzles out. Yokota could also involve more chord progression switches in his music a little more often, as it is the shift from the choral, classical instrumentation in ’Hisen’ to the soothing organ coda on ’Hysen’ that is the albums highlight. Although the steady process of weaving sounds in and out of set basslines does work on songs such as ‘Saku’, on others such as ‘Hagoromo’ the effect feels tedious and underwhelming.
Overall, however, a magnificent ambient album, and one that promises much for the future.
Expect cinematic collages of sound and masterfully layered styles that melt into a recording that Brian Eno, Phillip Glass and Aphex Twin probably all wish they had made themselves.
It is a veritable mind tonic.