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Futari — Beyond
(Libra 202-061, 2021, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-07-16

Beyond Cover art

When it comes to duos of piano and vibes, the first example most jazz fans will come up with is Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Futari, a collaboration between pianist Satoko Fujii and mallet percussionist Taiko Saito, is very different in sound than Corea and Burton. Both are known for extended techniques on their instruments, whether it’s Fujii preparing or playing inside the piano, Saito bowing the vibraphone, or anything else these imaginative players can come up with. Beyond features a wide range of sounds: indistinct, atmospheric tones; vaguely pitched gong-like plunks; high, twinkling sparkles; furious, ominous rumbling; and much more. There are even some moments of more-or-less “normal” playing where the piano sounds like a piano and the marimba or vibraphone is struck in the standard way. It’s a continual journey of unfolding discovery, seeing what the duo’s imaginations will bring next, from the sparse and almost creepy “Molecular” to the weird clunking sounds in “Proliferation” that build into insistent flurries from the low end of the piano to the whale-like wailing that starts “Todokani Tegami.” This latter piece turns into a reflective Satie-like etude on the piano while clouds of bowed vibraphone notes fade in and out. “On the Road” is one of the more conventional pieces, with the instruments trading playful melodic lines, sometimes coordinated with each other and sometimes with kitten-on-the-keys joyful flourishes. “Ame No Ato” is another more structured tune, though it contains some pretty wild improvisation from Fujii. On the whole, Beyond is a fascinating album full of interesting and unexpected sounds, and while the quieter parts may have you straining to tell if they’re still playing, there are plenty of more energetic moments to provide contrast.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Satoko Fujii, Futari, Taiko Saito

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