Sometimes an album just sneaks up on you. Tokyo musician Yasuhiko Fukuzono maybe prolific as a producer, sound artist and curator of the renowned electronic music label FLAU but his solo releases in the guise of aus are rare. Sure there was the pan-global richness of the ‘Until Then’ twelve inch in February this year but prior to that, auditory documentation from this exquisite sound shaper surfaced only as occasional compilations of re-mixes (ReCollected, 2013) or collaborations (Light in August, Later 2009). So the arrival of a new aus record, ‘Everis’ through Lo Recordings sees Fukuzono’s illusive persona surprisingly break cover and confirm the old saying that good things and waiting so often go together. That’s because ‘Everis’ is simply stunning, a flawless weave of classical, pop, new age and electronica with a narrative added by melody, song and found sounds. It’s music that both creates and fills space, inevitably drawing the listener in.
The source of the album’s emotional energy is likely down to a complex tussle between creativity and adversity. Events prior to putting ‘Everis’ together saw Fukuzono lose much of his archive and work in progress when his home-studio was burgled. Using snippets of material that he managed to salvage, from scattered audio/video remains and field recordings on his phone, he began to reconstitute the ideas he was developing for the aus project, reconnecting with the melodies he carried in his head, making meaning of these memories and then moving forward with new compositions. Consequently for Fukuzona, ‘Everis’ represents an intention ‘… to show that lost memories exist everywhere, without themselves, and are connected to the present’.
You might imagine from this description that this aus music will float gently and the tired adjective ‘dreamy’ is due to be dusted down, but ‘Everis’ is far from shapeless or obscurely abstract. Maybe the opener Halsar Weiter announces the journey as expected, suspenseful, orbiting synth drones and a deeply submerged bass pulse but the track itself gracefully fragments as it progresses. Vocal hints with pop inflections, twinkling strings, a closing tingle of violin and ticking percussion reveal something strangely ancient.
From here the shift between now and the past, electronic and acoustic becomes the album’s essential pivot. While Landia gets serious with a tumbling synth line and stately electronic orchestration, its sweetly looping children’s song and percussive trip-hop stroll brings real sun-blessed hope. Elsewhere any urgency is often suggested and never over-wrought. The cascading gamelan loops of Past From hurry along busily, the piano patterns pumping then pausing for momentary discordant breaks. Resolving around a quivering string quartet melody it’s a track that takes Reich-like minimalism as a starting point then runs to an unexpected place. The hypnotic Flo is similarly deceptive. This delicate thread of a song, unwinding to just piano and voice, drips with sadness or maybe broods with despair. The ambivalence is the beauty of it.
As the elegant continuum of ‘Everis‘ stretches further, the significance of singing in aus compositions becomes ever clearer. So often in electro-acoustic music the vocals are part of the the scenery but Fukuzona uses the voice as a lead instrument to define and personalise a piece. Take the ethereal folky Step which features the Japanese singer-songwriter Gutevolk. From psyche suggesting zithers to fluttering new age electronica, her part-whisper/ part-angelic timbre brings an airy suspended quality to this slice of new age, lush pop perfection. The equally swooning Make Me Me underlines the dedicated detailing that aus is pursuing on this revelatory record. Calling on Melbourne’s own Will Oldham, Grand Salvo, to bring his sultry tenor to this probing dubstep number adds sombre tension to a song that quivers with Blue Nile gravitas. Imagine Paul Buchanan singing the lines ‘Falling away now, all of the things that make me me’ and you will sense the scale of the impact that this song sustains.
Almost bewilderingly ‘Everis’ maintains such emotional intensity throughout even though the album switches gear after the short scrambled electronic interlude of Swim and parks itself more distinctly in the post-classical zone. From this position the filmic orchestral throb of Memories and the rising muzak cadences of Further seem to pave the way to the album’s symphonic closer Neanic. Glacial and otherworldly, stately and awe inspiring, the lone pensive piano and echoing choral backdrop circle expectantly while Benedicte Maurseth’s sinewy Hardanger fiddle draws a thin and desperate line. As the swell gathers then recedes the tune reaches that spiritual connect pursued by fellow soundscape-ologists Nils Frahm and Max Richter.
It’s been a long time coming but ‘Everis’ is an album that certainly nudges aus into the realms of such esteemed company. Serene, intricate but ultimately restorative music, one of those records that in the years ahead many will claim they were into but importantly some will never forget.
Get your copy of ‘Everis’ by aus from Lo Recordings/FLAU HERE