By Jamie McNamara
Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek are an unlikely duo, but the two experimental musicians come alive on record. Fujita is a renowned Japanese vibraphonist, Jelinek a German electronic experimentalist with a taste for small-scale electronics. Together they create music that sounds unique in its ability to sound otherworldly, while still remaining distinctly organic. The duo first worked together on 2010’s Bird, Lake, Objects, an album that sounded as abstract as its title. Now the cross-continental partners have returned with Schaum, a captivating new album with its title aptly translating from German to froth or foam.
Schaum is less of a musical project than a sonic one; tones are often used for texture rather than melody. “Urub” sounds like the inner workings of a tape deck, distorted whirring, clicks and pops enter and exit the track with a proud randomness that only comes from improvisation. Fujita’s playing is sparse and reserved, the low end of his vibraphone often acts as a transcendent drone that Jelinek layers his eclectic electronics on top of.
Standout “What You Should Know About Me” opens with a loop that slips around the listeners headspace in hypnotic fashion. Like much of Schaum, it deserves to be listened to in a quiet, dark space with big, isolating headphones. It’s in that kind of setting that Fujita and Jelinek’s work shows its transportive qualities, easing the listener into a meditative bliss that culminates with the nine-minute stunner “Parades.”Jan Jelinek, Masayoshi Fujita, Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek, Schaum