Ryuishi Sakamoto (1952 – 2023)
Back in the 80s I saw the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (a.k.a. Furyo) (1983) directed by Nagisa Ôshima and was emotionally shaken by its synthetic score. Beautiful melodies, perfumed harmonies and subtly-changing ostinatos sounded by silky, analogue synthesizers. The score incorporates an English hymnal. The music was by one of the lead actors in the film. I read he’d agreed to play the part only if he could also compose the film’s soundtrack.
From that work I discovered his band: Yellow Magic Orchestra. Some of their pieces are very good (check out Rydeen).
What’s magical about Sakamoto’s music for me, is the way in which Japanese modes alter his chords to give them great originality. He also brings other ‘non-musical’ worlds into his music (e.g. the sound of computer games). I love the originality of his synthesizer programming: the sounds themselves are as much his as the note choreography. A unique composer.