Japanese prolific pianist-composer Satoko Fujii, like many other musicians, used the pandemic lockdowns for experimenting and exploring new sonic approaches. She released on her bandcamp page a series of solo piano improvisations, but she wanted to create «music no one has heard before». «Piano Music» was born out of this wish.
Fujii, who describes herself as «a very analog piano player», took short pre-recorded fragments of her improvisation on prepared piano, all captured at her small piano room in her home in Kobe in March 2021. She focused on one idea during these brief improvisations, like ‘plucking strings,’ ‘Ebow on high strings,’ ‘rubbing low strings with a big felt mallet,’ or ‘dropping chopsticks on the piano strings’. Then she played with these snippets as if they were Lego bricks, and edited them together into two extended collages.
The ironically-titled «Piano Music» sounds like nothing that Fujii has done before. The 19-minute «Shiroku» (white in Japanese) is an exotic and elusive, minimalist drone that evolves gently like a necklace of soft and noisy pearls or like a mysterious choir meeting of otherworldly birds. At times, this piece brings to mind the experimental, ambient works of Brian Eno and Ryuichi Sakamoto, but suggests a fragile intimacy and enigmatic poetics. The 27-minute «Fuwarito» (softly and lightly in Japanese) offers a different approach. It organizes itself around short and rhythmic, dissonant but highly resonant wave patterns that swell and recede. Fujii explores here the timbral qualities of the piano as an unorthodox strings instrument, sometimes like the Japanese koto or the Chinese guzheng, other times like a Western, giant harp, and often employing the piano to sketch abstract, ambient percussive textures, but always anchoring these adventurous sonorities within poetic themes.
The outcome is surprisingly organic and coherent, fresh as if «Piano Music» was free-improvised in real-time and stresses. «Piano Music» stresses the bold sonorities in Fujii’s musical universe. She liked this way of making music that soon after releasing this album she released on her Bandcamp a follow-up volume, «Piano Music Vol 2».
Satoko Fujii (p, rec, editing, mix)