Futari is the duo of pianist Satoko Fujii and vibraphonist Taiko Saito. It is a Japanese word translated into English as 'two persons.' Both persons are world travelers, adept at navigating beyond their own Japanese culture. Fujii has been at it for years, studying in Boston in the 1980s and her releasing her first recording with mentor Paul Bley, Something About Water (Libra Records) in 1996. With time spent in the US and Europe, Fujii's discography is immense, recording solo, in duo, trio, quartet, and composing for her orchestras in New York, Berlin, and in various Japanese cities. Likewise Saito, a generation younger than the pianist, has studied and lived in Berlin. Her vibraphone can be heard in Silke Eberhard's Potsa Lotsa XL Silk Songs For Space Dogs (Leo Records, 2020).
The recording came about after a brief tour, yet it feels as if the two persons have been touring together for decades. They approach their respective instruments in a comparable way on Beyond, especially on the two freely improvised pieces, "Molecular" and "Spectrum." Fujii repeatedly opts for manipulating the insides of her piano, and Saito is in the habit of utilizing a bow to ring notes from her vibraphone as opposed to striking it with mallets. These extended techniques often create eerie droneslike ringing sounds that mimic electronics and singing bowls on "Molecular," and thunder "Proliferation." "Todokanai Tegami" begins with eerie elongated sounds and rubbed piano strings before morphing into a most sweet-tempered song. They do stick to the mallets and keyboard for "On The Road," blending and interweaving the melody into a what could be the soundtrack to a Buster Keaton silent comedy. The duos call and response of "Mizube" and cohesiveness "Ame No Ato" are evidence of a fruitful partnership. This Futari may be two persons, but it is also one mind.
Molecular; Proliferation; Todokanai Tegami; Beyond; On the Road; Mizube; Ame No Ato; Mobius Loop; Spectrum.