Fujita Masayoshi

Fujita Masayoshi is someone out of the ordinary to come out of Japan. While the Japanese vibraphonist (currently living in Germany) arguably has little connection to the term ‘J-Pop’ in its common use and association, Fujita exhibits a unique sound world that one believes he is someone worth looking into further detail.

As the timbre of the vibraphone would suggest, stillness and serenity are expressions that Fujita plays to his advantage in pieces like ‘Story of Waterfall I & II’ from his 2013 album Stories. Fujita experiments with an array of rich harmonies, rhythmic patterns and contrasting dynamics as the resonant and sumptuous quality of his skilful vibraphone playing meanders through the 11-minute journey at its own leisurely pace, which one cannot help but reminisce a naturalistic landscape before one’s eyes.

Fujita also shares an interest with electronics under his solo project name el fog. Tracks like ‘El Cloud and ‘Own Frequency, Own Time’, from his first album Reverberate Slowly (under the name el fog) are interesting in the sense that while the vibraphone as an instrument could just simply be a medium in which to produce sounds without seducing a particular mood, in this context it takes a different meaning as it tries to submerge the listener in an otherworldly sonic atmosphere. Delicate vibraphone chords and melodies gently float away in both pieces, stirring up a nocturnal feel (a kind of ‘night-pop’ if you will), further emphasised by intricate electronic details from injections of crackles, glitch samples, ambient echoes and bass beats that evoke the musical qualities of dub or IDM.

Moonlight’, from his latest album Apologues sees Fujita employ the use of orchestral instruments (some of who featured in the Stories album) to convey a classical-crossover soundscape with shades of pentatonic inflections. Trills and tremolos from the vibraphone fill the piece with its drone effects as soothing counter melodies from the flute, clarinet and strings weave through the palette, with the strings making a transition into pulsating pizzicatos in the middle and latter section.

Fujita Masayoshi has enlightened listeners across various cultures with his carefully crafted compositions that convey a crystalline and pristine quality that is perhaps so characteristic of the roster of Japanese classical-crossover artists.

Other Listening:

  • Tears Of Unicorn
  • Change Your Life (ft. Jan Jelinek)
  • Snow Storm
  • Mountain Dub

© Isaku Takahashi