Celebrated Japanese sound designer, Daisuke Fujita, steps away from his story-telling Meitei persona, to launch a new project, Tenka. Where his previous works were sort of concept albums – Komachi, for example, appeared set in a rural 19th Century village, while Kwaidan concerned itself with traditional folktales and specifically ghost stories – Hydration is presented more as an aural, everyday, diary.* Compositions created by sampling his surroundings, and nature. Sounds found while foraging in mountain forests. His clippings dependent on the season, and the weather. High summer and tropical monsoon. So singing cicadas, and choruses of frogs, are treated and toyed with. As is field-recorded fresh water, in countless forms. Streams, showers, and isolated droplets, rippling, trickling, mix with metallic temple gong-like melodies, the ringing of wind chimes, and glacial, slo-mo, gamelan bowls. Cowbells clonking and clanking, randomly, as if attached to a faraway herd.
Saturated with microscopic detail, the ambience is that of the ordinary amplified, made extra-ordinary, alien, and the pieces seem somehow alive. Sentient, constantly changing within the organic arrangements of sharply edited loops. It`s not a meditative, deep-listening dive into inner space, more like opening a window on another world, where you’re instantly entering a self-contained environment. One enchanted, and populated by colourful unidentified creatures. A peaceful, private moment. Not Aphex`s analogue bubblebath, but a soothing soak in a digital hot spring or onsen.
While the translated track-titles are among some of the longest I’ve ever seen, the music, I think, is far more accessible than the recordings Daisuke released as Meitei. This Is The Treatment That Is Being Done At This Moment In My Own Melancholia, for instance, isn’t “moody” at all. A cloud-like vapour formed from flickering, spinning, sometimes backwards, fragments, it climbs to a closing crescendo, and feels like a meeting of Christian Fennesz and Harold Budd.
*It`s perhaps worth noting that another celebrated Japanese electronic musician, Susumu Yokota, followed a similar working method later in his career. Check the album, Image 1983 – 1998, for sonic snapshots from Susumu`s aural diary.