A full-circle exaltation, a deeply earnest and meditative work that yet finds room for playfulness and levity. An alternate title for this cycle of albums could be Shoshin (beginner's mind), as these musicians approach every composition from a place of openness, curiosity, patience. It begs questions: How can a year so terrible help birth something so beautiful? How does one find hope in the midst of unfolding tragedy? Natsukashii lives inside this ambiguity.
Favorite track: Chopin Park Kite.
The ambient-jazz quartet closes its tetralogy of seasonal albums, ending with summer. This one captures a bittersweetness of friendship during quarantine, but deepens bonds. You’d never guess everything was recorded and mixed remotely, as the album moves from cool-jazz nostalgia to Tortoise-ian whimsy to chooglin’ longing in songs that sound like forever friends. www.vikingschoice.org/archive/vikings-choice-guide-to-bandcamp-friday-aug-2021/Favorite track: Suzushii Kaze.
Summer hovers, suspended in the air; a humid dance of light and heat and the longest days of the year. A fond memory of the present as the mercury rises. In the final entry into the seasonal series by Fuubutsushi -- Chris Jusell, Chaz Prymek, Matthew Sage, and Patrick Shiroishi -- nostalgia basks under a tree, naps on the beach, roams the desert, and ends the evening in a cool rainshower. Natsukashii (懐かしい) -- translating to “nostalgic” -- completes the cycle that this group began with their now eponymous album Fuubutsushi, and it is just that, a highly retrospective collection of songs that captures the same magics that have appeared across the last year of work this group has created. Maintaining their social distancing methodologies, these four musicians have established an approach that has proved highly functional for them in making what has equated to now nearly three and a half hours of music; they have learned how to build songs remotely together. They have honed their sound here, a sound that is many things; comforting, expansive, playful, curious, fun, nostalgic, introspective. Dabbling with many genres (ECM, ambient, jazz, new music, folk, neoclassical, post-rock) to create a sound all their own, this summer album sees the group present some of their most narrative work to date, which is to say, in this summer sound they tell a story.
The first album in the cycle was primarily built on Sage’s piano, synth, and percussion, with Shiroishi’s horns, Jusell’s violins, and Prymek’s guitars acting as both support and soloists. Progressively, Prymek, Shiroishi, and now Jusell have brought their own structures to the table for the group to adorn, react to, collaborate on, and interact with. As the group has continued to collaborate, they have become more free with their contributions, and more communal. Each player, in their own distinctive style, lilts, skips, and tumbles through these atmospheres, each their own child-self playing in the afternoon light, or basking, or wondering at the shadows as they dance on the grass. The album showcases the trademark Fuubutsushi group sound; softly bopping and euphoric jazz-tinged structures that feature dazzling violins, cooly interlocking saxophones, and flourishes of guitars, synths, and percussion. The group also continues to stretch out into new territory; this album features their longest composition to date (the eleven-plus minute and 3-part opener “Chopin Park Kite”), as well as vibraphone solos, cinematic ballads, desert psychedelia, and folk-jazz tumbles.
“Nostalgia.” A fitting place to end this cycle of albums (and for revisiting the cycle to begin as the Fall comes soon enough). These four players have built, not just a band, but a community for themselves. They’ve shared milestones -- births, deaths, marriages, moves, hopes, fears -- together during the recording of these 4 albums. But, as it must, here ends their four seasons, left to be looked back upon fondly and looked forward to revisiting as the cycle repeats.
The four members of the group thank everyone who has spent this tumultuous year with this music. The reactions to this project have been truly overwhelming. There will be more from this group in the future… eventually. For now, please enjoy Natsukashii.
released August 6, 2021
chris jusell: violin, cello, vibraphone, marimba
chaz prymek: bass, guitars, strumstick, field recordings
matthew sage: keyboards, percussion, voice, harmonica,
moog matriarch, guitars
patrick shiroishi: alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones, clarinet,
glockenspiel, samples, voice, banjo, electronics
recorded in california, illinois, missouri, and pennsylvania