Track: Masayoshi Fujita – ‘Bird Ambience’: the deft, spacious wonder of the marimba glimmers with delight

Masayoshi Fujita, photographed by Özge Cöne

THE WONDERFUL Japanese vibraphonist, multi-percussionist and composer Masayoshi Fujita is all set to release a new album for Erased Tapes on May 28th which, if you like your experimental music powerfully layered, melodic, enrapturing in its nuance and depth, so should be a red-letter day in your diary.

The album’s called Bird Ambience and Fujita has released the title track to beguile you utterly. It is perfectly within that Japanese understanding of sound that brings us the Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto albums, Summvs, Revep and Vrioon; and Chihei Hatakeyama’s brilliant release of just this week gone, Late Spring.

Based around a fully improvised marimba take, Fujita elegantly weaves in celestial choral samples, the operatic voice of fellow Erased Tapes artist Hatis Noit and slow-motion, skeletal, glitch percussion. And yet it’s so much more while simultaneously drawing on so much less, than the inadequacy of those words can convey; every note, every beat, every melody is placed with the kind of enthralling consideration you get from Talk Talk. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is wasted. It rings, it richochets, it glories in itself.

“When I was working on Bird Ambience, I had this very strong but blurred image in my mind that I wanted to capture, but had to find the right sounds,” Fujita reveals.

“It was like when you try to remember a dream you just had, but it falls away and disappears.

The album also sees a change of direction for Fujita, 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.

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.

Follow Fujita at his website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

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