Red Bull Music Academy and MET Museum presents Kunst als Klang Pt. 2

Longtime collaborators Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, AKA Carsten Nicolai, bring their acclaimed A/V show “s” to New York for the first time ever. “s” is short for “summvs”, and refers to the Latin words “summa” (sum) and “versus” (toward). The term serves as a metaphor for the idea of electronic music as inspiration for a new collaborative whole. Sparse percussions, throbbing bass, and crystalline piano solos are embedded in sine waves and reworked live on stage to establish a new concept of minimal yet emotionally charged electronic music. Carsten Nicolai is internationally renowned for his installations and performances, which combine notions of minimal sound, visuals, architecture, science and technology. In addition to his solo releases he has worked with Pan Sonic’s Mika Vainio and the Japanese sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, and is one of the founders of the acclaimed Raster-Noton label. Ryuichi Sakamoto is nothing short of one of the most influential music makers of our time, from pioneering early electronics with his first group Yellow Magic Orchestra, to globally-inspired rock albums, classical compositions, and over 20 film scores. He has received an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and a Grammy. (And is one of the coolest human beings on earth, period.)

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Alva Noto

Carsten Nicolai, alongside Frank Bretschneider and Olaf Bender, is part of the triumvirate that operates the revered German label Raster-Noton. Known for its distinct aesthetic—apparent not only in the music, but also in the design and packaging—Nicolai’s work as Alva Noto is an extension of those ideals: a smooth, clean minimalism made possible by a digital world, but presented with an element of surprise that only a human code can offer. Growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt, and now living in Berlin, Nicolai has since made a formidable reputation in the public sphere as a musician, designer, and artist especially known for his installation work. His practice has led him to notable collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto (with whom he has recorded five studio albums to date) and Blixa Bargeld. As a remixer, Alva Noto has been enlisted by Björk and Ludovico Einaudi. He has performed and created installations in many of the world’s most prestigious spaces, such as the Guggenheim Museum, SFMOMA, Tate Modern, and the Venice Biennale.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto came to worldwide fame as a member of influential Japanese synth-pop outfit Yellow Magic Orchestra. Making abundant use of new synthesizers, samplers, and recording technology, they pioneered a new electro-pop sound, with tracks like “Computer Game/Firecracker” becoming electro classics in the east and west. Sakamoto also pursued solo work, achieving commercial breakthrough (as YMO split up) with his score to the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (which he also acted in). This marked one of his finest musical unions with Japan frontman David Sylvian. Sakamoto has collaborated with many others since then, including David Byrne, Thomas Dolby, Iggy Pop, and Berlin-based electronic-music artist Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai). The pair met when Nicolai was performing in Tokyo, and an introduction led to them working together and forming their own unique electronic sound, with Sakamoto’s minimal piano complementing Nicolai’s glowing digital tapestry. Consistently pushing boundaries in electronic music, these are two musicians who will always be ahead of the game.

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A professional composer of children’s music and, simultaneously, a Throbbing Gristle devotee, Argentina-based MELMANN has the unique ability to captivate and unnerve at the same time. His sprightly melodies are taken to heights of excess, replete with circus organ, ukelele, and detuned synths—which is exactly what makes them so scary outside of a Saturday-morning cartoon context. In his more reflective moments, MELMANN showcases a piano-driven cocktail pop side, overlaid with ambient washes and sounds of insects. Frighteningly fun.

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