IF YOU like your music deliciously abstract, abstractedly delicious; arranged beautifully, an absolute world of evocative sound; fell hard, for instance, for the albums Ryuichi Sakamoto made with Alva Noto, or are like a kid at Christmas while waiting for the lusciousness of Chihei Hatakeyama’s new album, then attendez-vous, s’il vous plait; for Erased Tapes have announced a new album, Bird Ambience, from Japanese vibraphonist, percussionist and composer Masayoshi Fujita, to be released on May 28th.
The album sees a change of direction for the artist, best known for his explorations of the place where vibraphone gets it on with Berlin electronica and modern composition, makes some very beautiful babies; he’s moved one instrumental step sideways to the marimba, a similar instrument with wooden instead of metal bars.
He’s also, for the first time, blurred the boundaries between the more analogue ambient warmth which he released under his own name, and the deeper dub he records as El Fog.
You can hear the delightful results for yourself below on the first teaser single, “Thunder”; claps of marimba echo out across a texture of staccato, chattering microtronica, of the kind very much identified with the city of the album’s recording, Berlin, although a city he’s recently left for more rural climes, and of the enveloping sort practised by friend and collaborator Jan Jelinek; an embracing and an evocation of the natural world and weather phenomena in expansive sound. Warm mid-tones swirl and swathe you, soften the attack of the other sonics, pull you deep.
Logically, it comes accompanied by a video celebrating the wonders of the natural world, shot by Ryo Noda in the mountains that form a backdrop to Fujita’s new life in Hyogo, outside the city of Kobe.
“Thunder” was inspired by the verses “You Will Hear Thunder”, by Russian Victorian poet Anna Akhmatova.
Fujita says of the marimba, which takes centre stage on his new album alongside drums, percussion, synths, effects and tape recorder: “The way of playing the marimba is similar to the vibraphone, so it was kind of a natural development for me and easier to start with, yet it sounds very different.
“The marimba bars are made with wood and it has a wider range than the vibraphone, which gives me a bigger sound palette, with more possibilities. I play the instrument with bows and mallets, and sometimes manipulate it with effects.”
He’s also happier to let chance and happenstance take its place in his compositions: “I prioritised trying to capture the wonder which happens during those occasional magic improv moments.
“Sometimes the miking and placement of instruments was pretty rough; things weren’t perfect and everything was done quickly, but it turned out as the final recording. Overall when I couldn’t decide between two takes, I told myself to go with the first.”
Masayoshi Fujita’s Bird Ambience will be released by Erased Tapes on May 28th digitally, on CD and on 2xLP; you can pre-order your copy here.