Relieved of the El Fog veil, Berlin-based Japanese vibraphone maestro Masayoshi Fujita strips away the minimal, static clicking, electronica for a more organic sound. In comparison to his last indolent effort, Reverberate Slowly, the descriptive naturalistic travelogue of Stories is soporific and so gentle that you question its very existence. As delicate and transcendental as rice paper, every pliable stroke threatens to tear the frail musical framework in an instance.
Fujita can hardly be accused of using cryptic messages in the choice of album and song titles. Each placid scene directly matches the ‘writing on the tin’, so to speak: ‘Snow Storm’ is exactly that, as the notes fall like snowflakes in a drifting swirl of ambient, drifting resonance. Perhaps a soundtrack to his native homeland, the journey begins with the light-footed, bouncing tones of ‘Deers’ – blinking and hoping like the woodland creatures of the title – before pondering through and besides plaintive forests (‘Story Of Forest’ – see, told you those titles were self-explanatory) and trickling, whispery watersides (‘Story Of Waterfall I. & II.’). Looking up is also encouraged with narrative exercises in translating the sound of a ‘Cloud’, and the lingering traces of ‘Memories Of A Wind’.
Essentially in the classical vein, Stories is a showcase for Fujita’s vibraphone, which apart from the occasional bowed strings dominates the entire palatial suite. Sweetly serenaded or thoughtfully reflective, the vibraphone chimes and twinkles, seducing the listener, even if its’ charms wear thin after a time. Fujita does however mix it up, experimenting with different textures and materials – like aluminium foil – which are stretched over the vibes for various effects.
Subtle to a fault, though effectively sensuous and articulate, Stories is a pleasant enough experience, one that will send the listener off into relaxed, drifting state.
Released 21st January 2013