Somnambule - Writing About Music

Yuichiro Fujimoto ~ Komorebi

Fujimoto is a Japanese artist and musician whose work has been championed by Norwegian artist/musician Kim Hiorthoy and his debut release appears on Hiorthoy’s label, Smalltown Supersound. Fujimoto’s visual work (which can be seen on his website at is typified by a delicacy and strength of observation which catches small, charming details that might otherwise be missed in the rush of everyday life. For example, a small treebranch with green leaves fallen on the grey tarmac of a road, a notebook seen through a window with a pair of spectacles placed open upon it.

Joy is perhaps played on a thumb piano by a precocious child (perhaps in between her Suzuki violin lessons). It’s hesitant, but delightfully so. The sound of children playing in the background underlines the innocence of what might be the interlude between two parts of a story. Little Sunset is surely a lullaby, its notes slow, almost somnambulent as though inevitably drifting off to sleep. It’s difficult to tell what the instrument is – perhaps it’s a xylophone, whose edges are slightly slurred. Whatever it is, it takes careful, charming footsteps as though stepping across an icy pavement. Slow Boat lives up to its name, its guitar seeming to become slower and slower – as if negotiating a path into eventual silence. It’s a little reminiscent of Ogurusu Norihide in its melodic simplicity and pendant pauses. This is calmness personified. Small Mountain’s rhythm is traced out on filtered piano shadowed by tinkling xylophone like a friendly stray following somebody in hopes of finding a home. This time the association is with Kim Hiorthoy's music, there’s the same childlike innocence.

See Water begins in the same appealing territory as its predecessors until it acquires a sort of digital scurvy which up to this point has hovered in the background. By seventh track, Kujira, the distortion of the sound, particularly when twinned with awkward chords and sharp notes becomes something of a painful trial. Its cessation provokes relief. Sometimes returns to prettier territory, partway through joined by birdsong and children's voices... and is that a frog? The Book sounds for its first half like a field recording made outside a church containing a particularly enthusiastic congregation, then it’s a piano recital by a serious child who plays with stabbing fingers. The recording sounds like it's a 4th or 5th generation tape, perhaps copied from proud grandparent to auntie to cousin and so on.

Komorebi is a slight work made up of sketches and vignettes, whose very slightness is one of its most attractive qualities. Using the adjectives ‘pretty’ and ‘charming’ about the first half of Komorebi might provoke images of carefully manicured gardens in English villages (at least to some). However Fujimoto discovers, and reveals to the listener, the beauty in the everyday. The distortion resulting from deliberately lo-fi recording techniques is as much a part of the work as the melodies themselves. Komorebi is an unspoken argument for taking time, looking around and appreciating – if it’s possible – the incidental and the positive.
Colin Buttimer
September 2004
Published by Milkfactory