Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Erased Tapes Records
Think of Lionel Hampton’s bright streaks enlivening Charles Mingus’ late 1970s vamps, the sly warmth Teddy Charles brought to Miles Davis’ Blue Moods, the titillating sonic vertebrae various members of Tortoise added to albums like TNT and Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Such is the lot of the vibraphone, that of a supporting instrument regularly submerged by voices, guitars, strings, horns, and drums. The career of Japanese vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita seems, at times, to represent a rebuke to this notion.
About a month ago, I was sat doing the most niche radio show of all time. I moonlight as an online DJ for a website, and spent two hours trawling through the archives of a long lost record label called Moteer - a tiny imprint setup by a couple of ex-members of the band Hood that closed its doors in 2011. On the show, I went over their output, mentioning a lot of obscure glitchy folktronica and weird ambient drone records, including one called Reverberate Slowly by a Japanese artist called El Fog.
Japanese multi-instrumentalist Masayoshi Fujita has been making electronic-based music as el fog since the mid ‘00s, but Apologues is his second album in two years to come out under his own name. Freed from el fog’s freestyle jazz maneuvers and any trace of percussion, Fujita’s gilded, dream-like recollections keep their shape without gravity keeping them down. The vibraphone doesn’t often stand front-and-center in indie and popular music, but if you know what to listen for it has a way of sneaking in to more places than you might expect to find such an unwieldy instrument.
Berlin-based vibraphone player Masayoshi Fujita is a rising star, and when listening to Apologues, his first album for Erased Tapes, it's easy to understand why. Fleshed out here with strings and woodwind—which Fujita, a composer and multi-instrumentalist, arranged himself—his rippling, twinkling work feels innocent and pure. It's serene and mentally cleansing in a way that's initially disarming.Inspired by nature, Fujita is a painterly musician keen to conjure scenes in the listener's imagination, which he does with aplomb.