4.01 Sat 19:00 START
To commemorate the release of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first solo album in eight years, LEXUS has teamed up with the acclaimed composer for a three-part project, Listening Drive | Ryuichi Sakamoto. It kicked off with an intimate talk at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO, featuring Sakamoto and GQ Japan editor-in-chief Masafumi Suzu-ki. On two weekends in April, LEXUS Listening Drive also offered participants the unique chance to experience Sakamoto’s new album, async, while driving around Tokyo in a LEXUS vehicle. Finally, a special exhibition at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TO-KYO allowed visitors to experience the album both visually and aurally through a car display along with exclusive video footage.
For the opening LEXUS Listening Drive | Ryuichi Sakamoto event, Sakamoto spoke with Masafumi Suzuki at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO in Minami-Aoyama, Tokyo. On April 1st, the two enjoyed an informal conversation about the relationship between cars and music as well as Sakamoto’s new studio album, joined by a select number of invited guests chosen randomly from the many applicants.
Suzuki: Thank you for joining us today. What is the idea behind async?
Sakamoto: Synchronization. 99% of music is synchronized. It is all in sync on one time axis. Everyone grows up listening to synchronized music and it’s human instinct. Even if we tried it is actually hard to perform music out of sync. So for the last few years, I’ve wondered if it’s possible to make music that isn’t synchronized.
Suzuki: By “synchronized,” do you mean like lining up a few metronomes and the speed aligns?
Sakamoto: Well, that’s a bit different. Synchronizing is not just rhythm; it’s also harmo-ny. Even if you start off disjointed, after around 10 minutes the music will naturally come together. So this time I deliberately wanted to see if I could do something not like that. For example, not fixing the core elements and just having six performers play music in their own way. So even though everyone is playing separately, I wanted to create a situation where it becomes a single piece of music. I tried this a few times with musi-cians in the past and it was really beautiful. I had lots of tracks like this so I made async in order to express this idea.
Suzuki: And what about listening to music while you drive?
Sakamoto: Musicians also often listen to music in the car. It’s the standard way to listen to music for many people.
Suzuki: It’s different to listening to music in a room, isn’t it?
Sakamoto: The audio system is different and then there is also the noise of the car and the city outside. It is a way of checking how your music sounds. After all, it’s no good if you can’t hear the music because of some external noise.
Suzuki: You’ve checked your music like that in the past?
Sakamoto: Well, I'm a bit lazy! (Laughs) I’ve known for decades that you should do it but this was the first time I actually tried it. I played an almost complete version of the music in a car and then deliberately drove around in a noisy area for some two hours. Manhattan is pretty noisy wherever you go but there are these other noises like helicop-ters taking off and landing, buses passing, and so on. I drove around places with those noises to test how strong my music was, whether it could handle the noise or if it was drowned out.
Suzuki: And did you then make changes as a result of this test?
Sakamoto: In the end, things were better than I had expected and it was all OK. I don’t just mean that I could hear the music well but when there was a helicopter flying over-head or some outside noise, it intermingled well with the music. It created new music. For this event I worked with LEXUS to make a similar “listening drive” experience in the city. Compared to New York, though, Tokyo is much quieter. Suzuki: The LEXUS Listening Drive event happens on four days in April and lets 24 pairs of people selected randomly drive in a LEXUS car around Tokyo listening to async with your narration. The route takes around an hour. I tried it, driving around in the pas-senger seat of a LEXUS car. You’re right, Tokyo is surprisingly quiet. There isn’t that much noise.
Sakamoto: We start at Watari Museum of Contemporary Art and, providing you don’t get caught in traffic, you should reach the end of the album by the time you arrive at the end of the route. The course passes by the rows of ginkgo trees at Meiji Memorial Pic-ture Gallery as well as Akasaka Palace. My high school was actually next to Shinjuku Gyoen, which I used to go to a lot. I was born and brought up in Tokyo so I feel at-tached to the city. The route was actually planned by me.
The 60-minute talk took in a wide range of topics such as async and the experience of listening to music in a car. For the guests and two speakers, the conversation was packed with insights and fascinating ideas.
2. LEXUS Listening Drive
LEXUS Listening Drive took place over four days in April (April 15th, April 16th, April 22nd, April 23rd), offering participants a unique opportunity to experience Ryuichi Sa-kamoto’s new album, async, while driving around central Tokyo in a LEXUS vehicle.
Starting from Watari Museum of Contemporary Art at Gaienmae, the participants sat in the passenger seats of a LEXUS car and enjoyed the sights of the city as they traveled along a special route selected by Sakamoto himself. The approximately one-hour course took in Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, the Imperial Palace and Shinjuku Gyoen, before arriving at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO.
The response from the 24 pairs of participants across the four days was very positive. They noted how superbly the course matched the music as well as the stimulating soundscape the experience created, whereby Sakamoto’s music, the sound of the car and the outside noise all fused together. Others also commented on how the hybrid car was very quiet inside so they could fully enjoy the music as well as how comfortable the drive was, allowing them to feel the music channeled through their body. It was so pleasant, one person said, they ended up dozing off!
In this way, the music, sound of the surroundings and Tokyo scenery seen through the windows of the car all synthesized into a whole new musical experience.
3. LEXUS Listening Drive | Ryuichi Sakamoto Exhibition (now open)
Until May 9th, 2017, the ground floor Garage space at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO hosts a special exhibition, “LEXUS Listening Drive | Ryuichi Sakamoto.” Visi-tors can listen to Sakamoto’s new album, async, through the audio system of a LEXUS vehicle on display and also enjoy wall exhibits as well as an exclusive Ryuichi Sakamoto video made for LEXUS. Venue: INTERSECT BY LEXUS – TOKYO Address: 4-21-26 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo Dates: April 1st – May 9th, 2017 (TBC) Opening hours: 9:00–23:00 https://lexus.jp/international/brand/intersect/tokyo/garage/garage20170401.html