Yûgen (幽玄) is an important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. It is usually translated as “mysterious profundity”. It means the beauty that we can feel sense in an object, even though the beauty doesn’t exist in the literal sense of the word and cannot be seen directly. Yûgen is also the title of the debut solo album of Norwegian, Oslo-based trumpeter-composer-conductor Marius Gjersø.
Before making this album, Gjersø traveled to Japan to explore the incredible amounts of powdered snow in the mountainous northern region of Japan. He enjoyed skiing there but the Japanese cultural concepts of aesthetics left a much deeper, lasting impression and inspired the creation of Yûgen.
Yûgen offers nine electro-acoustic, ambient soundscapes where Gjersø plays the trumpet enhanced with effects in a soft, whispering mode, owing much to the seminal impact of Arve Henriksen’s shakuhachi-like (the bamboo flute associated with Zen Buddhism) playing of the trumpet, who was also inspired by Japanese aesthetics but in a different manner. These cinematic, mostly minimalist and melancholic pieces are titled with Japanese words that correspond with aspects of the Yûgen aesthetics and feel like an intimate suite with no beginning and no end, with a kind of cosmic vibes that transcend time and space. Gjersø sculpts these touching soundscapes beautifully with measured doses of lo-fi effects and subtle beats and grooves, enjoying the contributions of cellist Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, bassists Sebastian Haugen Jo Berger Myhre, and guitarist Stian Larsen.
Marius Gjersø (trumpet, effects), Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen (cello), Sebastian Haugen (double bass), Jo Berger Myhre (electric bass), Stian Larsen (guitars)