- Nathan Yoder
Recommended Listening: Fuubutsushi - Yamawarau
Matthew Sage was featured on this site almost exactly a month ago, and here he is again with a completely different ensemble. Sage is one of four members in Jusell, Prymek, Sage, and Shiroishi - a quartet who is referred to by its members' surnames, or instead, simply as Fuubutsushi. Yamawarau is the group's third volume in a four-album cycle following the seasons, and fittingly, this spring release contains eight constructions which bud, blossom, and grow.
"Ambient Jazz" is not a genre we've covered, or a phrase we've even typed before, but last weekend this was the term someone used to describe Fuubutsushi's Yamawarau. And while we do not consider ourselves very qualified at all to write about jazz-related subgenres in this space, we can say that some of what we posted here parallels what we notice when listening to Yamawarau. Both albums seem to live and breathe, a diverse palette of field recordings contributing to this organic texture. Both albums feel exploratory, the musicians following sonic curiosities to see where they lead, and then riffing off these threads. But while Sage was the mastermind behind The Wind of Things, it is Chaz Prymek who provides Yamawarau's core melodies. Upon reading the album notes, however, it seems that the four players overlap a good deal in their contributions, hinting that Fuubutsushi is pretty democratic ensemble.
It's tough to pinpoint favorite tracks, but there certainly are a number of notable moments on Yamawarau. There is the opening birdsong underneath acoustic fingerpicking, followed by the soft-as-moss sax across the first two pieces. We loved the Your Hand In Mine but-with-violin build in the latter half of the title track. Tender vocals define the first part of Kodama - a construction which feels like the album's emotional and sonic apex. Ah, and the spoken word to close wraps up the album so nicely! The quartet expertly paints these bucolic scenes with soft jazz brushstrokes, so feel free to disregard that "Spring Sketches" playlist we posted in back March and spin this instead. You can find the album out via Cached Media here, and listen to a couple sample tracks below.