What comes to mind when you think of a child playing the vibraphone? “Fuck that”, is what comes to my mind. What kind of piece of shit child, at 9 or 10 years old, says “Momma? Dadda? Can I get a vibraphone for my birf-day?” Da fuck you ask you strange small human? Are you a demon? Where’s your twin? Do you stand inside empty hotel hallways asking strangers to come play with you? I bet all the Children of the fucking Corn play the vibraphone. That girl from The Ring definitely plays the vibraphone inside her dark well every day and night (though she has never really known what time it is). The reason why a child’s creep factor turns up to grinding-on-a-wall-corner-and-licking-your-thin-moustache-as-your-mom-heats-up-canned-pasta-sauce-upstairs is because the sound of a vibraphone rings out with a certain type of sophistication that barely exists now of days. Something within its ring, that high register, just gives me the fucking willies when children play it. Sammy David Jr. could play the vibraphone. In fact, lots of those old cats used the vibraphone in jazz. And good for fucking them. In our day and age, if you play that shit, either you’re legally required to go door-to-door when you move, you’ve got the courage of a professional skydiver, or you’re Masayoshi Fujita and you have such slide, swagger, and compositional intellect it wouldn’t matter what you play.
Masayoshi Fujita hails for Japan but is now based in Berlin. You can tell this motherfucker loves the fucking vibraphone. He has immersed himself in what this instrument can, and cannot, do. What comes up often in this album is the theme of fog and lightness. With track titles like “Fog”, “Snowy Night Tale”, “Mountain Deer”, “Misty Avalanche”, and “Cloud of Light”, you know this shit isn’t going to rock heavy metal. These tracks drift and flutter. They pulse with a strange beat and mysticism. They hover more than they invade. They have the tenderness of a vegetarian that cringes at the snap of a carrot, rolls the perfect joint, and begins each morning with a walk by the pond to feed the ducks. It’s a deeply introspective album that treats the vibrations of the vibraphone like wind. Fujita moves these chords and lines as if he could harness nature itself. It’s supremely beautiful.
With some people, it doesn’t matter what life hands them: they just make it fucking work. People like Fujita, Doug Perkins, and Mulatu Astatke use the vibraphone to create art. Straight from the get go that’s a bizarre, expensive, heavy, loud, and an annoying instrument to learn. I’d rather someone learn the fucking drums than the vibraphone. Imagine hearing them practice that shit each day? Fuck that. If Jimmy Hendrix had walked into a triangle shop instead of a guitar shop, oh so many years ago, that slick motherfucker would have given the triangle the sex appeal of any Canadian celebrity named Ryan. With some people, it just doesn’t fucking matter what they end up playing, they just play the fucking shit out of it.