Thousand Knives

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Thousand Knives
Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto.jpg
Studio album by Ryuichi Sakamoto
Released October 25, 1978 (1978-10-25)
Recorded 10 April—27 July 1978
Studio Columbia Studios 1, 2 and 4
Tokyo, Japan
Genre Electronic
Length 44:57
Label Nippon Columbia
Producer Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakamoto chronology
Thousand Knives
Summer Nerves
(1979)Summer Nerves1979
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[1]

Thousand Knives (also known as Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto) is Ryuichi Sakamoto's first solo album. The album is named after Henri Michaux's description of the feel of using mescaline in Misérable Miracle. It was recorded in about 500 hours, and Sakamoto would spend whole days without sleeping working on it. The album's title track is one of Sakamoto's most famous compositions.


The title track begins with a vocoded Sakamoto reading "Jinggang Mountain", a poem written by Mao Zedong during his visit to a well in the Jinggang Mountains in 1965. The song proper is performed in a reggae hymn style, inspired by Herbie Hancock's Speak Like a Child album. The piece segues into "Island of Winds", a ten-minute analog synthesizer composition designed to sound like the natural sounds of an island. The modern classical piano piece "Grasshoppers" follows. On original copies of the album, the entire first side was indexed as one 24:40 long track. The second side of the album contains varied electronic music pieces. "The End of Asia" uses the same melody as Haruomi Hosono's "Worry Beads" from Paraiso (though Sakamoto has claimed that the use was entirely coincidental) and the coda uses the melody of "The East is Red", the national anthem of the People's Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution. Thusly, the album as a whole summarizes Sakamoto's then-interest in Chinese history.

"Thousand Knives" is a staple of Sakamoto's repertoire, being rearranged for his synthpop band Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1980 for their BGM album; as a classical trio for 8/21/1996; and for a piano duet on /05. Numerous other arrangements have been performed live over the years, both by YMO and by Sakamoto himself; these performances contain one of the earliest uses of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. "Plastic Bamboo" was also a staple of early YMO shows, though the only recording appears on their live album Live At Kinokuni-ya Hall 1978. "The End of Asia" would also regularly appear during YMO shows, with a drastically different studio version included on their X∞Multiplies album.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Thousand Knives" 9:34
2. "Island of Woods" 9:50
3. "Grasshoppers" 5:16
Side two
No. Title Length
4. "Das Neue Japanische Elektronische Volkslied" ("The New Japanese Electronic Folk Song") 8:05
5. "Plastic Bamboo" 6:31
6. "The End of Asia" 6:21



External links[edit]