Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto

© Andrey Bold


Carsten Nicolai is a German artist and musician based in Berlin. For his musical outputs he uses the pseudonym Alva Noto. Born 1965 in Karl-Marx-Stadt he is part of an artist generation who works intensively in the transitional area between music, art and science. With a strong adherence to reductionism he leads his sound experiments into the field of electronic music creating his own code of signs, acoustics and visual symbols.

Diverse  musical projects include remarkable collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ryoji Ikeda (cyclo), Blixa Bargeld or Mika Vainio. Nicolai toured extensively as Alva Noto through Europe, Asia, South America and the US. Among others, he performed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London. Nicolai scored the music for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 'The Revenant’. The score was nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Grammy and Critics Choice Award. Most recently he has created the sound design for Iñárritu’s groundbreaking VR project “Carne y Arena”. For his film music for Marc Wiese's "This Stolen Country of Mine", Carsten Nicolai received the German Documentary Film Music Award 2022.

His musical œuvre echoes in his work as a visual artist. Carsten Nicolai seeks to overcome the separation of the sensory perceptions of man by making scientific phenomenons like sound and light frequencies perceivable for both eyes and ears. His installations have a minimalistic aesthetic that by its elegance and consistency is highly intriguing. After his participation in important international exhibitions like documenta X and the 49th and 50th Venice Biennale, Nicolai’s works were shown worldwide in extensive solo and group exhibitions.


This Stolen Country of Mine, 2021/22
Directed by Marc Wiese
Music: Alva Noto
German Documentary Film Music Award 2022

Draw a Line, 2019
Directed by Benedict Mirow
Music: Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto

Babylon, 2019
Directed by Haimi Fenichel

Likemeback, 2018
Directed by Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli
Music: Alva Noto

Closing Time, 2018
Directed by Nicole Vögele
Music: Alva Noto

Carne y Arena, 2017
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Music: Alva Noto

Roadside Radiation, 2017
Directed by Moritz Schulz
Music: Alva Noto, Gregor Pfeffer

Any Other Normal, 2016
Directed by Brock Labrenz
Music: Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto

The Revenant, 2015
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Music: Alva Noto, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bryce Dessner

Lin, 2010
Directed by Harley Hessel

Wochentage, 2004
Directed by Carsten Gebhardt
Music: Alva Noto

Flashforward, 2004
Directed by Eva Meyer, Eran Schaerf
Music: Alva Noto


Future Past Perfect pt. 07, 2015

Future Past Perfect pt. 04, 2013

Future Past Perfect pt. 02, 2012

Future Past Perfect pt. 01, 2010

Future Past Perfect pt. 03, 2009

Plamen Dejanoff Documentation, 2007

Camera Lucida, 2007
Video: Evelina Domnitch+Dimitry Gelfand+variuos artists

Kosta 3:30, 2006
Directed by Mikael Olsson+Andreas Roth

The Milkmaid, 2006
Video: Mariana Vassileva

New Ryoanji, 2005
Video: Tagaki Masakatsu
Music: Ryoji Ikeda, Carsten Nicolai



Directed by: Marc Wiese
Music: Alva Noto

THIS STOLEN COUNTRY OF MINE takes us to Latin America, to a country with immense natural resources, pristine nature and a corrupt leadership: Ecuador.
The film follows Paul Jarrin, leader of the indigenous resistance against their homeland's exploitation. He fights against Chinese mining companies that extract uranium and use mercenaries to kill Paul and his friends. China uses the Ecuadorian government to turn the country into one of its new colonies. When journalist Fernando Villavicencio exposes these plots and gets access to the contracts between China and Ecuador, the government wants him silenced too. Both men are fighting for freedom in this battle against a superpower.

German Documentary Film Music Award 2022

Jury statement

THIS STOLEN COUNTRY OF MINE explores the disturbingly topical question of a state's sovereignty in the face of foreign powers: The film portrays Ecuadorian resistance fighters and journalists who oppose the sell-off of a large part of the country's own resources to Chinese investors. 

Alva Noto's music subtly lends intense power to the struggle of a mountain village, sensitively and precisely accentuating the film's disturbing themeand often bringing us closer than we would like. Close, but never indiscreet, she exposes and holds back when the images and statements of the protagonists speak for themselves. It reflects the dark shadows as well as the budding glimmers of hope of communal resistance.

We honour the composer's achievement in fully backing the theme, flanking it with sound collages and nature sounds and underlining the existing drama in a cool, restrained and professional manner.



Directed by: Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli
Music: Alva Noto

Just out of high school, Lavinia, Carla and Danila leave for a yachting holiday. Accompanied only by a skipper, the three of them sail along the Croatian coast at the start of a new stage in their lives. Full of dreams, free and laid-back, they are unaware that sharing everything on the social media is about to transform their holiday into a brutal rite of passage to adulthood in which nothing, especially their friendship, will ever be the same again.

World Premiere: Locarno Film Festival 2018



Directed by: Nicole Vögele
Music: Alva Noto

Kuo and his wife cook for the city’s sleepless. They work all night and sleep during the day, like many others in buzzing Taipei. The film is an attempt at capturing time, a cinematographic meditation on in-between moments and a search for the inexplicable when a human being is simply human.

World Premiere: Locarno Film Festival 2018



Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Music: Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto, additional music: Bryce Dessner

While exploring uncharted wilderness in 1823, legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass sustains injuries from a brutal bear attack. When his hunting team leaves him for dead, Glass must utilize his survival skills to find a way back home while avoiding natives on their own hunt. Grief-stricken and fueled by vengeance, Glass treks through the wintry terrain to track down John Fitzgerald, the former confidant who betrayed and abandoned him.

The Revenant received 12 nominations and won 3 awards at the Academy Awards in 2016. The score was nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Grammy and Critics' Choice Award.