AUS: Curveland (Moteer)


Posted on Mar 11th 2007 09:30 am

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Aus: Curveland

Moteer 2007
10 Tracks. 40mins08secs

Despite being just twenty three, Japanese musician and producer Yasuhiko Fukuzono already has no less than five albums under his belt, including this latest effort, collecting music that goes from atmospheric electronic experimentation to unadulterated pop. He also regularly dabbles in composing and producing soundtracks, and co-run the Tokyo-based record label Flau.

On Curveland, Fukuzono slowly peels off layers of soft electronics and discreet glitches and statics wrapped around dreamy melodies and, on many occasions, the breathy vocals provided by Cokiyu, to reveal deeply emotional moments often reminiscent of early Múm or of Fukuzono’s compatriot Piana. Curveland is all half-tones and tempered ambiences, in turn shrouded in light or clouds, with treated acoustic instrumentation gleaming through cracks and tears affecting the surface calm to give each song a singular texture. Fukuzono works a very straight and narrow groove here, never veering far from his sonic template, and he does so with precision as he assembles minimal sound sources into complex and evocative soundscapes. Yet, Fukuzono manages to retain the fresh feel of his music all the way through. Beautiful melodies emerge almost unnoticed and dig their way through fragmented constructions until they evaporate, leaving just a vague after taste, helping create the overall eerie effect that lingers over the whole album.

All the way through, Fukuzono toys with lyrical atmospheres and vast narratives, yet he stops short of creating sweeping pastoral pieces, resorting instead to underwhelming ethereal themes and delicately assembled miniature pop songs. The result is simply stunning. It is difficult not to succumb to the fragile aspect of pieces such as Lied, With Rain, Curve, Tejina, Apt or Yoakemae and marvel at how they hold together with grace. Fukuzono applies gentle sonic touches to alter melodies without ever breaking their individual flow, and collates his compositions without much breathing space in between, as if the short silences separating each piece was as much part of the songs as any of his sound sources. Cokiyu’s sweet and sour vocals add to the ephemeral aspect of Fukuzono’s music and appear intricately woven into the sonic landscape of this album.

Although comparisons to both Múm and Piana are valid, Aus’s resolutely minimal outreach gives this album a singular relief and places Fukuzono’s work in a league of its own. Curveland is a truly enchanting and accomplished collection of ethereal Japanese pop with interesting scope and depth.

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