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Futari: Underground


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Futari: Underground
Pianist Satoko Fujii found another perfect musical partner in 2017, in the Berlin-based mallet maven Taiko Saito, resulting, eventually, in their duo outing Beyond (Libra Records, 2021). The pair dubbed themselves "Futari" ('two people' in Japanese). Underground surfaces as their second 2021 release ("prolific" is a word usually included in a description of Fujii's output).

Fujii's piano (often prepared) and Saito's vibraphone and marimba push Fujii's "music you've never heard before" approach deeper into the unknown. Taking nothing away from her solo recordings and her work in ensembles large and small, it must be said that Fujii excels in the duo format, releasing numerous CDs with other perfect partners, including trumpeter (and also her husband) Natsuki Tamura, drummers Ramon Lopez and Tatsuya Yoshida and bassist Joe Fonda. It seems that one-on-one is where she finds her soul mates.

Opening with the title tune, the sound of Underground has a definite subterranean vibe featuring rich reverb, like accordionist Pauline Oliveros' echoing cistern recordings; like music created in a cave—and not a cave made from an incessant flow of water, with a gleaming damp floor and dripping stalactites, but one created by the slow dry tectonic plate movements that have opened up cathedral-like, high ceiling-ed caverns which capture every sound for wavering sustain and gentle swells of amplification.

A blindfold listen to the tunes "Break in The Clouds, "Air" or "Finite Or Infinite" might elicit the assumption that electronics were involved, with dream-like atmospherics and drone aspects, but it is all Fujii and Saito and their (sometimes) prepared instruments, making spare, patient, alien planet exotica type sounds.

Unlike the previously-mentioned Beyond, which was recorded live, the musicians in the same room together creating music in the moment, Underground is a Covid album, Saito doing her part from Berlin, Fujii making her magic in Kobe, Japan, sound files flying back forth via the internet across half a world. The music benefits from the process. Beyond is a fine set of sounds. Underground is pure, "never heard anything like this before" excellence, benefiting from the deliberation which the long-distance collaboration allowed, from the ability to tweak and embellish original ideas over time, for the allowance of curation.

Underground is Fujii at the peak of her powers in the duo format which suits her so well, joining forces with Taiko Saito, a terrific, like-minded collaborator.

Track Listing

Underground; Break In The Clouds; Meeresspiegel; Air; Frost Stirring; Memory Illusion; Finite Or Infinite; Asayake; Streeet Tromp; One Note Techno Punks.


Taiko Saito

Album information

Title: Underground | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Libra Records

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