Ahead of the release of his new album Book Of Life, Erased Tapes will re-issue Stories, the first in a trilogy of vibraphone solo albums by Berlin-based composer Masayoshi Fujita. This quietly exquisite album is like a book of illustrations, evoking scenes of natural beauty and poetic poignancy that combines climactic crescendos laced with electronic detail and luxurious melody.
Stories is the beginning of Masayoshi’s mission in bringing the vibraphone — a relatively new invention in the history of instruments often kept in the background in orchestras and jazz outfits — into the spotlight. Having trained as a drummer, Masayoshi began experimenting with the vibraphone, preparing its bars with kitchen foil or beads, playing it with the cello bow or using the other end of the mallets to create a more ambient texture of sound. Focussing on the vibraphone in this way sets Masayoshi apart, dedicating his artistic life to celebrating this fascinating and often under appreciated instrument and making his take on ambient and modern compositional styles a unique one.
Masayoshi previously released two albums under his alias El Fog that touched on the vibraphone but appeared mostly in a supporting role, accompanying his intricate electronic production. Much like his instrument, he has often been a collaborator as opposed to a front man — his sympathetic musicianship complimenting a variety of creative outputs. Most frequently with the adventurous German producer Jan Jelinek. Their most recent offering Schaum displays a dialogue between the two that makes it hard to tell just where Fujita’s vibraphone ends and Jelinek’s whirring loops begin. Another fruitful partnership was the experimental Needle Six piece, a BBC Radio 3 recording of an improvised session with UK electronic artist Guy Andrews for Late Junction. The mesmeric and compelling 30-minute piece was released for Record Store Day in 2016. In addition his label peer and fellow Berlin resident Nils Frahm mastered Stories, providing a fitting symmetry to its re-issue on Erased Tapes now.