I am fairly sure that I’m not alone in believing that the music of Satoko Fujii comes from a very deep place. But there is, as I also suggest, “very” deep” and then there is “Challenger Deep”. In listening to twelve late recordings with which Miss Fujii celebrated her 60th birthday – her kanreki celebration – as a milestone from where she will look ever-forward I found “Challenger Deep” in every idea that was transmogrified into the very heart of each work that has come ever since – and there have been three others that came after the 12 albums that marked her 60th (birthday) year. If I may quote Ralph Waldo Emerson with regard to explaining something of what I feel about Miss Fujii’s music lately, it would be this: “These teach us the qualities of primary nature – admit us to the constitution of things…what they know and what they know for us.”
What does she offer us (or what does her music offer us) as a support for this discovery? It is the seventeen-and-a-half-minute-long piece “Farewell”, from the Kikoeru album. It is a heroic meditation on death, loss and the ability to prolong the memory of a much-loved one, tenor saxophonist Masaya Kimura. What begins as a sorrowful dirge climaxes into an ebullient bouquet of memories; a sonic world of transcendent realities from which to view the not only the loss of an important source of musical inspiration to her (and her colleagues), but one where the “farewell” leads us to a [lace we can view all things in (Mr Kimura’s life) their original and spiritual oneness.
To express this we hear the Orchestra Tokyo propelled by the low orchestral groan from which the bass and horns emerge with a tonally indeterminate drone. As the mu8sic builds up, there is a sense of development from darkness to light, as higher “voices” (instrumental registers) are added until the soaring sound of hope facilitates the joyful memory of the one who has passed into infinity. Through it all, a saxophone howls and wails with the Holy Spirit of Albert Ayler. A low bass moans con arco at times. The rattle of the snare drums accompanies the spirit of Mr Kimura to the rarefied realm as the rest of the orchestra returns in unison to do likewise until everything ends in whispers and just plain breath punctuated by the occasional clash of the cymbal before ending in to repose with a protracted and venerating silence. It is a truly remarkable experience.
The artist – especially one as profound in her thinking and music as Miss Fujii – is constantly in a state of perpetual descent and regeneration; delving, as it were, into the deep mystery of regeneration, now more erudite in the midst of a new phase of her life, forever in the creative throes of the creative cycle of evolution in which transformation and regeneration are omnipresent and eternal processes. Again, this becomes manifest in the music. Birth and death suddenly strikes us as marking the cycle of life as it weaves – shuttle-like – through the manifest world. Again this is analogous with Miss Fujii’s remarkable piece which emerges like Blast 1 a work by the painter Adolph Gottlieb, a work depicting the art of regeneration, of perpetual descent and return.