release date: 17.09.2021 via Libra Records
Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii’s Bold Experiment with Sound Collage and Prepared Piano
“…magical, unfamiliar sounds that can stimulate your sense of wonder and affect your emotions . . .” — Barry Witherden, Jazz Journal
“Fujii’s music troubles the divide between abstraction and realism. Plucking or scraping the strings of the piano; covering them up as she strikes the keys…. All of this amounts to abstract expressionism, in musical form. But it’s equaled by her rich sense of simplicity, sprung from the feeling that she is simply converting the riches of the world around her into music.”
—Giovanni Russonello, New York Times
Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii is often quoted as saying that she “wants to make music no one has heard before.” She more than fulfills that goal on her latest solo album, Piano Music, out September 17 via Libra Records. Using short pre-recorded snippets of her prepared piano music, she edits them together to create a patchwork quilt of unique sonorities. The results are unlike anything she has done before—two extended pieces of otherworldly piano sounds and melodies that evolve so smoothly and organically you can’t tell they’re stitched together from smaller fragments.
“To create my ‘Legos,’ I recorded short improvisations using one idea for each, like ‘plucking strings,’ ‘Ebow on high strings,’ ‘rubbing low strings with a big felt mallet,’ or ‘dropping chop sticks on the piano strings.’ Each was less than one or two minutes,” she continues. “The materials I recorded are all so short that without shifting them around, they don’t make any sense”.
“Then I transferred these parts into my music editing application. Putting together the small parts into a larger picture was just like improvising,” she continues. “I would play a section and most of the time without pausing, I would just drag the next part that I wanted to follow it. I could spontaneously make the longer piece in real time. I learned a lot musically with this process because I found I have a tendency to change the scene too quickly. I kept telling myself, ‘Take your time. Take your time.’”
“Fuwarito” (which means “softly and lightly”) organizes itself around wave patterns that swell and recede rather than sustained drones, and the phrases are shorter and more rhythmic. She creates a swirling cloud of sounds with sparkling tones, woody rattles, and metallic plucks dissolving within it.
“I would like to be free in the music to do whatever I want and I made this music in a way I have never done before,” Fujii says. “Of course, I love playing piano, but I think it’s not the only way for me to make music.”
Satoko Fujii photo by Kosuke Okahara