Ryuichi Sakamoto redid the playlist of his favourite restaurant because he didn’t rate the music policy

The Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto has curated a playlist for his favourite restaurant, featuring music from Aphex Twin, Nicolas Jaar, Nils Frahm, Oneohtrix Point Never and more.

In a New York Times article published yesterday, the ambient pioneer reveals that he offered to curate the playlist of his favourite West Village restaurant – because he couldn’t tolerate the music.

In the article, Sakamoto said, “Normally I just leave. I cannot bear it. But this restaurant is really something I like, and I respect their chef, Odo.”

“I found their BGM (background music) so bad, so bad. Really bad. It was a mixture of terrible Brazilian pop music and some old American folk music and some jazz, like Miles Davis.”

In the article, Sakamoto details how, one day, he couldn’t tolerate the music of the 39th Street eatery any longer, so he left. Later, he composed an email to the chef. He recalls writing, “Who chose this? Whose decision of mixing this terrible roundup? Let me do it. Because your food is as good as the beauty of Katsura Rikyu. But the music in your restaurant is like Trump Tower.”

Teaming up with New York producer and curator Ryu Takahashi, the pair set about creating their own playlist of suitable background music. The criteria, from restaurant owner Siobhan Lowe, was to “make a playlist for a rainy afternoon in the Ides that would not freak out my dad but that music nerds will be impressed by”. Sakamoto initially wanted to curate a collection of ambient music – “not Brian Eno, but more recent” – and found jazz to be “too stereotypical” for a restaurant.

The resulting playlist includes the AFX tracks Avril 14th and Nanou2. Listen to Sakamoto’s restaurant selections below, and read the Crack Magazine feature: A Guide to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Cinematic Storytelling Through Sound.