Admittedly, half of my fascination with “Playing the Orchestra” came from the original, totally far-out packaging (complete with rice shaker mysteriously sealed into the lid) of the initial 1989 limited-edition release (see first photo below). However, having fallen in love with Sakamoto’s soundtracks to “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” and “The Last Emperor” that preceded “Playing the Orchestra,” it only makes sense that an album with a full orchestra performing themes from those luscious soundtracks would satisfy. Just the simple concept of Sakamoto, the composer, “playing” the orchestra is brilliant, as the orchestral composer’s true instrument is the full orchestra itself. Indispensable stuff, even in the modest reissue packaging.
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