A MUSICIAN who deals with a nuanced ambient beauty that audiophiles should surely treasure, and to my mind lining up alongside fellow countrymen Ryuichi Sakamato and Chihei Hatekeyama in making music not only of a bewitching delicacy, but with a really empathetic understanding of sound in space, Masayoshi Fujita is set to release a new album, Bird Ambience, for Erased Tapes at the end of the merry month of May.
It’s an album of subtle changes: of circumstance, of aesthetic and most immediately of instrumentation, sidestepping from the vibraphone stylings with which he’s carved out a reputation in the place where modern composition bleeds towards ambient, and allowing the woody timbre of that instrument to guide him. That instrument takes centre stage in a nuanced and poised soundscape of 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”, he explains.
“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.”‘
Bird Ambience, the new album, also sees a blurring of the aesthetic boundaries between Fujita’s acoustic recordings and the electronic dub he makes as El Fog and his collaborations with contemporaries such as Jan Jelinek; and its wholly satisfying.
Today he’s dropped another single teaser, “Morocco”, in which he gives voice to a jazzier side; you can hear that herein.
It’s Satie meets Bobby Hutcherson, a study of the beauty of resonance and twin interplay, a grounding, cyclical melody delineating a zone of shimmer and softly pitter-pattering drums. As it builds and swells it has the feel of a magical film soundtrack, something classic ringing through from childhood; a melody the world has always known but which Fujita has finally tuned into.
“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”, he recounts.
We’ve been bathing in the album for a few weeks, and we summate it thus in our review, which you can read in full on the morning of the 23rd: “Complex and dazzling, it’s an album to seek refuge in.
“Music for dusk, music for sex, music for the cosmos. Buy.”
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.