Remastered to sound clear as a dead still night under a full moon, Carsten Nicolai & Ryuichi Sakamotos seminal minimalist masterpiece returns to the water on its 20th birthday
2002s Vrioon is a best-in-class example of late C.20th classical chamber minimalism and precision-tooled electronics, reassessing their roles and interrelations at the cusp of a new era. Its seven sections pay witness to Sakamoto and Nicolai subtly building on the examples of their super minimalist late 90s works, spanning installations and loop-based electronics, with a plusher (yet exactingly pruned) palette of chamber piano keys and ultra-precise electronic tones that genuinely sounded like a sort of future had a arrived. With hindsight, it was soon easy to gauge the influence of their innovation on a wave of imitators in their wake, and Vrioon still stands as a a masterclass in elegant reductionism and a sterling example of how not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
In its seven sparing parts Sakamoto dials down his classical skills to an emotive, quizzical quintessence comparable with Morton Feldman, while Carsten Nicolai adapts the icy asceticism of his previous works to provide filigree juxtaposition and sympathetic contours to the piano notes crisp attack and wilting decays. The results are simply free of pretension and are soberly, nakedly honest in their execution and effect; conjuring lucidly reflective and melancholic, yet, ultimately ephemeral, structures that are future-proofed by their razor sharp minimalism and timeless sense of patience. Trust, if youve not immersed in it before, there are genuinely rare pleasures to be discovered in this recording.