Fuubutsushi is the second entry into this now established series of CDs released on cached that features musicians collaborating through social distancing measures. Here, a quartet comes together while staying apart to miraculous ends, leaving space for memory to wander in a shimmery autumnal dappling. Chris Jusell (violin), Chaz Prymek (guitars, field recordings, voice), Matthew Sage (keyboards, percussion, voice, field recording), and Patrick Shiroishi (alto saxophone, clarinet, flute, glockenspiel, samples, whistling, voice) have collaborated on projects on and off in the last several years (some you may have heard, some yet to be released), but here, the four worked together as a singular unit in a playful and focused way. These compositions, a kind of wistful cool jazz diluted by ambient figures and new age hallmarks, could possibly be tucked into the “Post Rock” sector, but may actually be more aligned with ECM’s school of playership. Through a combination of varied classical training and (here subdued) experimental tendencies, a harmony is achieved wherein melody is itself a texture to play with. In their solo work, some of these players wander in much more cerebral, jarring, psychedelic, unconventional airs, but on Fuubutsushi, they present as a tightly connected quartet prepared to woo listeners with these honeyed impressionistic strains. Songs are structured around muted piano parts from Sage that he augmented with percussion and occasional synthesizer flourishes. Flutters of reeds and winds from Shiroishi paint the scenes with nostalgic tenderness and vibrancy. Prymek’s nimble guitar figures add longing and character, texture and dynamism. Jusell’s violins drift about in emotive drafts and eddies of harmony, darting into lyrical spurts at opportune moments. There is a restraint and a mutual leaning-back that these players offer one another on these songs, and so, they all have their space to stretch out, to incorporate emptiness into their parts, to smile at one another warmly in those spaces. With such hospitality and kindness for each other, the music feels as much like an unexpected and joyful crossing of paths as it does a kindred reunion at a remembered crossroads.
The term Fuubutsushi, or 風物詩 in kanji, is a kind of seasonal nostalgia. A longing for the approaching season upon its first sign. That moment in late summer when you can sense autumn is approaching -- maybe it is that cool night bitten by the scent of frost and wood smoke, or the soft rotting leaves in a warm beam of morning light -- and so you anticipate that approaching autumn using past autumns as a frame of reference. “That new old feeling again.” This is a music of looking forward and looking back simultaneously. Both nostalgic and hopeful, wistful and realistic. Apart from their respective bodies of work or other collaborations, consider this album a singular offering from this quartet that is, as each season that passes, unique, however familiar it feels.
Chris Jusell - violin
Chaz Prymek - guitars, field recordings, voice
Matthew Sage - keyboards, percussion, voice, field recordings
Patrick Shiroishi - alto & tenor saxophones, clarinet, flute, glockenspiel, samples, whistling, voice
additional vocals on "Chorus Wheel" by Matt Crook and Anna Wilson
recorded in Arizona, California, Illinois, and Missouri in late summer of 2020
photographs by Chaz Prymek