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In the liner notes for “async,” his first solo album in eight years, Ryuichi Sakamoto lists some of the strategies he employed during the recording process: capturing elusive melodies at early-morning synthesizer sessions, compiling field recordings of rain and ruins, rearranging Bach chorales until they resembled fine mist.

That may sound like the recipe for a new-age record, but Sakamoto isn’t inclined to take the easy-listening route to serenity. With “async,” he resists the prettiness that has characterized some of his best-known work, and comes out all the stronger for it.

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