Masayoshi Fujita – Bird Ambience Album Review (Erased Tapes)

To an impresario like Japanese musician Masayoshi Fujita, switching from vibraphone to marimba is a move that doesn’t come lightly. His latest album, Bird Ambience, contains the spirit of intrepid exploration; the first sketches of a master artist with a new toy. And like a lifelong film director playing with digital for the first time, Bird Ambience features a healthy sense of explicitly doing things that weren’t available before. The dynamics of wood versus metal are surgically tested, the unique resonance of organic material is given enough empty space to ring out in full.

Masayoshi Fujita

Bird Ambience also marks a merging of the threads explored under his dub alias El Fog. Layered on top of the acoustic performances is a tasteful dressing of treble and melody, never crowding out the main dish of marimba. Dollops of dub and IDM tropes provide a welcome trellis for the marimba textures to play about.

Channeling the blanched organic ambiance of legendary acts like Mkwaju Ensemble and Inoyama Land, Fujita expertly develops each composition with a cornucopia of rhythms and interweaving resonances. On the palatial “Pons,” the sound is naked and natural. On “Thunder,” heavy processing is used to give the wooden timbre an almost dystopian dread (I personally love the clipping).

Fujita states that Bird Ambience is an attempt to capture a more spontaneous recording process, going with first takes more often than not. “Noise Marimba Tape,” in particular, captures a quintessentially lo-fi experience. But even with more improvisational intentions, Fujita’s playful sense of melody remains. Pace and restraint remain his greatest strengths, and his superlative vision for the endless possibilities of his sound triggers a listener’s curiosity and attention. Bird Ambience, for lack of a better term, unfolds exquisitely.

Bird Ambience is out now via Erased Tapes Check it out here.

Masayoshi Fujita


Written by
Allen Huang

Allen is a writer/organizer/manager based in Taipei, Taiwan. You can read his work on Redefine and Asian Junkie. You can follow him on twitter at @therealhojo.

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Written by Allen Huang
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