12 (Milan Records)

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Released January 17, 2023

Pitchfork 30 Best Jazz and Experimental Albums of 2023





Available everywhere now, the prolific composer, producer and artist, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO debuts his 15th solo studio album’12’ and the first of new solo material since 2017’s async. .

The album features 12 songs selected from a collection of musical sketches Sakamoto recorded like an “audio diary” between 2021 and 2022 during his ongoing battle with cancer. Each track is titled and sequenced by the date in which it was written, culminating in a collection of music that provides an intimate snapshot into this period of Sakamoto’s life.  

Of the album, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO says, “In early March 2021, I finally ‘came home’ to my new temporary housing after a big operation and a long stay in the hospital. Around the end of March, just as my body was feeling a little lighter, I found myself reaching for the synthesizer. I had no intention of composing something; I just wanted to be showered in sound. I had a feeling that it’d have a small healing effect on my damaged body and soul. Up until then, I barely had the energy to listen to music, let alone play anything. But after that day, I began to occasionally touch the keys of the synthesizer and piano, and I began to record little sketches of sounds as if to write a diary. I tried choosing 12 of my favorite sketches for this album. There are no adornments—I’m intentionally putting them out as is. From now on, until my body gives out, I’ll probably continue to keep this kind of ‘diary.’”

In advance of the album’s release, Sakamoto recently debuted a special solo piano concert that was streamed online to an audience of over 60,000 viewers across the globe. His first live performance in two years, the concert was recorded over the course of a week at Tokyo’s legendary 509 Studio and features an hour of the composer playing new arrangements both spanning his repertoire and from his new album.

Track Listing:

1. 20210310 6:54

2. 20211130 5:23

3. 20211201 5:33

4. 20220123 8:41

5. 20220202 6:23

6. 20220207 7:02

7. 20220214 9:10

8. 20220302 – Sarabande 3:11

9. 20220302 2:53

10. 20220307 2:32

11. 20220404 2:27

12. 20220304 1:09


Music written, producer and performes by Ryuichi Sakamoto

Mixed by Ryuichi Sakamoto + ZAK

Mastered by Robin Schmidt

Artwork Designed by Takuya Minami

Drawing: Lee Ufan

Associate Producer: Norika Sora

Production Management and Associate Engineer: Alec Fellman

Assistant Production Management: Maria Takeuchi

Assistant Engineer: Makoto Kondo

General Producer: Shinji Hayashi

Executive-Producer: Katsumi Kuroiwa, Masato Matsuura


It’s difficult not to consider Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final album through the lens of his death in April. He began recording it a couple of years ago, not long after receiving his second cancer diagnosis; he completed the last piece just two months before announcing that the disease had progressed to stage four. Yet these patient, contemplative, quietly rapturous studies for piano and synthesizer are not mournful—at least, no more than the rest of the composer’s gorgeously melancholy oeuvre, which spans more than four decades. Softly tracing repetitive figures and halting motifs that touch on jazz, Romanticism, and his own back catalog, Sakamoto uncovers moments of joy in changes that seem to move of their own volition, like leaves in the wind. He knew the piano inside and out, but was still finding chords that could surprise and delight. And though his days were numbered, he let these pieces unspool as though he had all the time in the world.

Philip Sherburne (Pitchfork)