Japanese vibraphone player, Masayoshi Fujita, may not be using traditional Japanese instruments on his second studio album under his own name, but his music nonetheless feels connected to the culture and traditions of his home nation. Apologues is a porthole to the palace of the mind. An instrumental album of subtle grace that requests your presence, rather than demands it.
Fujita’s compositions have a melodic torque to them, which casts your mind into a contemplative quiet. The Berlin-based musician previously produced two albums of ambient electronic recordings of his vibraphone under the guise of El Fog. Here, however, his music is more orchestral in form, the instruments – which include violin, flute, clarinet and French horn – left to express their voices at length. Not unlike the Asian-influenced compositions of Bonobo, Cinematic Orchestra and Nitin Sawhney.
Evoking a sense of place is central to the music of those artists, and Apologues has much the same affect on the listener. Fujita plays his vibraphone with the delicacy of a dragonfly landing on a water lily on the picturesque ‘Knight and Spirit of Lake’, which so richly conjures the atmosphere of wander among the plants and waterways of a garden by moonlight. Recited melodies produce feelings of ascendance (‘Swallow Flies High in the May Sky’) or rapid movement across country (‘Flag’). The music marries stately surroundings with a serene calm, and places your mind at the centre.
For these reasons, it’s easy to imagine Fujita’s music setting the mood perfectly at a regal-looking Japanese restaurant or hotel. You could let the music wash over you and fade into the mists of your subconscious, but that would be a great shame. For Fujita’s harmonic circles massage the mind more effectively than your ritual afternoon tea. The sense of musical ancestry he evokes is really quite magical.
Apologues is out now on Erased Tapes Records.
Have you listened to this album? If so, what did you think of it? Tweet me @dk33per.
Image: Erased Tapes/Alexander Schneider Photography/PR; (artwork) Erased Tapes/Bernd Kuchenbeiser