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In 2014, Yellow Magic Orchestra co-founder turned classical composer Ryuichi Sakamoto was diagnosed with throat cancer. His battle with the illness not only gave him a new perspective on life, but also inspired him to return to the studio and write Async, his first solo album since the turn of the decade. It's an absorbing and hugely entertaining set that flits between funereal compositions for piano and organ, sweeping neo-classical movements and, on some of the album's most ear-catching moments, synthesizer-heavy ambience. There are moments of measured cheerfulness scattered throughout, but for the most part the album is melancholic and poignant in tone. Given his personal health battles, that's understandable.
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