May 28 will see prolific Japanese vibraphonist, multi-percussionist and composer Masayoshi Fujita mark a new sonic direction with his new album
Bird Ambience brings several fresh changes for the artist. Until now, Masa would separate his acoustic solo recordings, the electronic dub made under his El Fog alias, and his experimental improvisations with contemporaries such as Jan Jelinek. The new album sees him unite all these different facets for the first time into one singular vision.
He also makes a lateral leap from his signature instrument the vibraphone — on which he created his acclaimed triptych Stories (2012), Apologues (2015) and Book of Life (2018) — to the marimba, which takes centre stage on the new record 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.” — Masayoshi Fujita
Arranged with a perfect Kanso-like balance, the unhurried pace of Bird Ambienceallows each sound and phrase enough time to be mindfully absorbed and savoured. Fujita vaporises contemporary and classical, ambient and dismantled dub, controlled noise and fragments of jazz into an atmospheric, static mist, which he skilfully coerces into new forms.
The lead single Thunder, which blends mildly abrasive effects on the marimba with a warm feeling of benevolence, was inspired by the poem You Will Hear Thunder by Anna Akhmatova. It comes with an equally breathtaking video directed and shot by Ryo Noda in the mountainscapes that surround Fujita’s new life in Hyogo, rural Japan.