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Fjordne: "The Setting Sun"

img  Tobias

Does Shunichiro Fujimoto dream of Debussy? Does he have a Beethoven-bust standing on his Piano? And when his fingers weightlessly dance across the keyboard, does he silently mourn Chopin's premature death of tuberculosis in Paris, a mere 39 years of age? Singer Adam Durewitz of Folk-Rock band Counting Crows once claimed to be haunted by the ghost of Michelangelo at night and there may be a similar nocturnal Freudian fantasy behind  Fujimoto's fourth full-length under the banner of Fjordne. After all, „The Setting Sun“ was directly inspired by compatriot Osamu Dazai's novel by the same name, his most famous perhaps in a string of equally mysterious and morbid stories of disturbing autobiographical qualities. In conjunction with the accompanying accordion-style CD-sized hardcover picture-book, this web of intimate revelations, sensory connections and hidden links is becoming even more intricate and interrelated. It is turning increasingly hard to decipher as well: Photography, literature, sounds and concepts - in terms of sheer ambition, Fujimoto is easily putting plenty contemporary composers to shame.

A first encounter with „The Setting Sun“ may therefore be intimidating. Its general mood is hazy and unreal. Its musical metaphors are darkly erotic. Its lyrical code remains intriguingly impenetrable even after several listens. At almost exactly an hour, the tension arch of the album is as epic as some of its up to nine minute long pieces. Instrumentation, meanwhile, predominantly focuses on a subtly woven minimal web of Piano, acoustic Guitar, occasional Strings, rhythmical stutter-effects, strangely sensual semblances of crackle and plop as well as a few hand-picked field recordings. There is a warm, yet extremely dense ambiance running through the entire record, as though the head of someone you love were reclining on your chest in your sleep. Likewise, even though there are neither sudden eruptions nor unexpected ruptures, there is a constant sensation of something meaningful about to happen in the air: Fujimoto has effectively created a slowly simmering, surreal and somnambulant 21st century version of chamber music which moves with dark grace and hallucinatory delicacy.

Most of all, he has created a remarkable new style, which not only reconciles the past with the present but also embraces two layers which have traditionally been antipoles of artistic expression: Realism and the fantastic. Just like a Pianist caught in a romantic reverie, Fujimoto adornes every melodic line with the myriad of spontaneous mental images, fanciful ideas, unrelated daydreams and colourful creative sidethoughts which pop into his head at any given moment. In the moment it is created, as it were, the music already quietly continues at the level of pure poetry, simultaneously unfolding in the gentle loops rotating in the limelight as well as the fragile echoes, reactions and counterpoints coalescing into a tight atmospheric sheet in its wake. Even though these layers are not always running in sync, sometimes superimposing each other with undeniable rhythmical or harmonic friction, they always appear entirely complementary. In any case, any determinate sense of fore- and background quickly becomes obsolete. In fact, as one begins to loose sense of direction and time in these tenderly choreographed tracks, it is the silent motives, which at first seem to be tucked away from sight, which are increasingly at the centre of attention.

Besides, there are plenty of beguiling moments on „The Setting Sun“ to reward listeners willing to go the length. Unlike some contemporary composers, to whom complexity is an aesthetical proposition, Shunichiro Fujimoto has structured his opus in an inviting way. The feathery voice of Japanese Vocalist Fuyu serves as a guide and leitmotif, opening the album on luminous opener „Collide“ and marking its turning-point on the oscillating Ambient mandala „Vivid Memories“. Some pieces are not only built around simple, intuitive Guitar chords, but also gently underpinned by dabbers of rhythm and percussion. At a first piancle of immersion, Fujimoto eases the tension by interspersing „After you“ and „Torn Out“ with fragile sounds of nature, as though he were playing the Piano in his garden. A palpable raising of the volume, meanwhile, announces the advent of the darkest cut of the album, the ghostly „Rustle of Leaves (After Sunset)“, the only piece bereft of any kind of recognisable traces of acoustic instruments.

It is this constant equilibrium between profundity and deepness on the one hand and almost casual playfulness and charming naivete on the other which marks every single single composition on this album as necessary and relevant. Whatever he dreams of at night, Shunichiro Fujimoto seems to be making good use of his nightly inspirations.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Fjordne
Homepage: Kitchen.Label

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