TRACK: Hear Naoko Sakata’s ‘Improvisation 3’ – free piano expression leads for album for Anna von Hausswolff’s label

Naoko Sakata, photographed by Anna von Hausswolff

NAOKO SAKATA is a supremely free, expressive, elemental pianist, very much cheerful and thriving in the avant-garde end of the modern piano spectrum.

Born in Japan, she’s now based in Gothenburg; whence she’s come to the attention of Anna von Hausswolff who, caught by her experimental incantation, is to release Sakata’s album on her own Pomperipossa Records.

Her work? Wild and alive; take a listen to a taster from the album, “Improvisation 3”, below, thundering through the bass keys before settling into a calmer, flowing pastoralism. In her aesthetic, she reminds of Daniel Blumberg – willing to push right out, but with an absolute mastery of songwriting in the pocket as well.

The album, Dancing Spirits, is the daughter of the moment; pure improvisation and untrammelled expression. It’s almost a natural phenomenon, a manifestation.

Of “Improvisation 3”, Sakata says: “When peace and chaos exists together, I feel like myself. I felt a strong connection with the music flowing in me.

“When I sit in front of the piano, I, as a person, disappear. My body becomes a conduit for expressing the music that I can hear in my head. There are no obstacles to its realisation and I don’t follow rules on how to make it happen.

“It is at the same time something natural and highly spiritual, sacred and wild, something that lives in a moment in time and only in that, before disappearing forever .”

Dancing Spirits was recorded during two days at Annedalskyrkan, a church in Gothenburg, the city that both artist and label owner call home. It consists of seven improvisations performed on a Steinway grand piano.

Naoko Sakata’s Dancing Spirits will be released digitally and on limited edition gold vinyl by Pomperipossa on March 26th; you can pre-order it here.

Follow Naoko at her website, on Facebook and on Instagram.


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