|2004 audio remastered Japanese import of SOMETHING ABOUT WATER on Bomba Records. Limited Edition Japanese release comes with an LP sleeve reproduction.
Sakoto Fuji's album of solos and four-handed duets with Paul Bley is perhaps one of the more stunning improv piano recordings of the 1990s. Fuji's style, one of refined maximalism and sharp, angular timbral expansions, is in stark contrast to Bley's resonant, spacious pointillism. And perhaps that's why it works so well. As Bley hovers about in the middle and lower registers on most of these works, Fuji carefully crafts a microtonal series of clustered single, double, and triple note runs constructed of legato phrasing and shimmering glissando. She also digs deep to make the chords in the upper register resonate timbrally with the angular bass patterns Bley is playing. These chords are seldom shrill, but they are poignant, full of raw edges and sharp turns down the scale. For his part, Bley tries to define the space and border it tonally so that Fuji has more room for her explorations. And it works, but the time the duo reach "The Surface of It," the album's third track, they become symbiotic and begin moving to shape space, color, and time in catalogs of notes rather than patterns of them. When they reach they end of their collaboration on "Strings," which is played inside the piano, there is no more telling who is who and where the notes begin or end, only that they resonate -- even in dissonance -- as true and spare and beautiful. On the solo tracks ("Waiting," "Yad Nus," and "Lake") Fuji puts forth her truly individual voice as a soloist and merges her classical technique with a jazzer sense of phrasing and an improviser's sense of place and timing. Of the three, "Waiting" with its vast expanse of colors and inverted counterpoint is the most enjoyable though all of them are lovely. For piano fans, particularly those of the new music ilk, this is an album that is well worth seeking out.