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aus: Light in August, Later

img  Tobias Fischer

Sounds harmoniously chiming closer, a vision of a peaceful life, warmth and sunlight, sheer light flooding huge expanses of land and sea. Bells appear to be dominating at first, but they quickly intermingle with vertically pulsating chords, putting even the most stressed-out mind to rest. This music is so anti-aggressive that it’s almost too good to be true. On ‘Little Song a Little Time’ the composer is all but arriving at a singular take on pop music: There are traces of guitar, a sweet and delicate voice, utterly pure and clean, so fragile yet filled with strength, self-confidence, beauty and a touch of melancholy.

Melancholy, too, is the word best used to describe the overall feeling and programmatics of „Light in August, Later“. It is all over the work, even when sophisticated drumbeats are invading the scene with sporadic mayhem. It seems as though someone were writing sweet and ambitious songs and then reducing them to their naked essence. The result amounts to a powerful display of minimalist manoeuvres. As part of a process of drastic reduction, Yasuhiko Fukuzono allows his music to be swept away, like a dreamer in the stage of awakening, still aware of his nocturnal explorations, clutching at straws in an attempt of retracing them.

This concept is taken to its extremes on ‘Open’. Here, the voices of two young women play a carefully arranged game with electronics emanating from the deepest emotions, consciousness and pureness a human being is capable of. One follows the track's development in a state of complete surprise and quiet enthusiasm. As always, the music dissolves in the end, this time into slight disharmonic melodies. They are fading with gentle ease, just strong enough to wake the listener up without shocking him too much with reality.

Speaking about reality: This is another word of seminal importance to this remarkable work, because Fukuzono may seem to avoid reality as much as possible, but in fact always uses it as a gauge against the perfection of his own dream world. In this sense, again, it certainly is a reflection of pop music, with its tendencies of placing a layer of sweetness and innocence over life. Pop music, however, doesn’t make the effort of differentiating and refining its premises on a musical level. In pop music, everything stays candy coloured and undisputed until the bittersweet end. On „Light in August, Later“, we are experiencing something entirely different. The tenderness of the music is always tested against the harshness of the outside world. And while one is treated to the most beautiful sounds imaginable, there is always the unmistakable anticipation that things may go the wrong way, towards disappointment, pain and suffering. Without any doubt the music on ‘Light in August, Later’ really is a dream and it doesn’t disguise its purpose one bit.
Yasuhiko Fukuzono is one of Japans most impressive young artists. Yes, I copied that from the press release. And why shouldn’t I? It’s the truth.

By Fred M. Wheeler

Homepage: aus / Yasuhiko Fukuzono
Homepage: Someone Good Recordings

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