The recorded output of Junzo Suzuki has been a constant in the ambience around OBLADADA. His frantic work rate feels like he drops a new recording every six months or so. Each step of the way, creating a spider webbed mental wander through the books, films and music he happily drowns in. A miasma of references, genre and language hopping universe accessed via his jam-packed floor to ceiling shelves in his Tokyo apartment. Every track in a growing stream of albums feels like a multi-dimensional key that fits a thousand locks. Given the deep well he draws from, this latest work – Se Una Notte D’Inverno Un Viaggiatore, (particularly after finding out what the translation reveals) is an amazing sonic banquet.
Se Una Notte D’Inverno Un Viaggiatore is the original Italian name for If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, a frankly stunning novel by Italo Calvino. Whilst having read the book may well help, simply knowing that the book deals with the postmodern angle of the reader reading a book called If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. The reader is of course you and the book, in its simplest terms is about the act of reading, of a story unfolding in your brain as the words slowly form a reality in your head. And applying that broad concept to music, and an album, is surely a mouth-watering prospect?
Foreground/background, light/shade, quiet/loud, improvised/planned, acoustic/electronic are all understood elements of a musical vocabulary. Trans-Mediterranean Thunderfuck opens the set with a vast 18-minute-long showcase of this weird past-present-future tense environment. Percussion, a shaker, strumming and warm tone of guitar roll around as space age electronic phasers pulse and reflect. Disparate elements grow and congeal into a writhing block of sound. Pick a thread and follow it, do you choose the Garcia guitar line, the Amon Duul chugging groove or the Cosmic Jokers galactic whispers? Things floating in space existing independently in a shared zone like silky blobs in a lava lamp. All parts plotting the same forward arc, slowly grooving along and growing more insistent. Separate paths drawing over each other, heading in the same direction, made from different materials on a ladder made of time, heading star ward… The space narrows and grows into a mesh of stunningly inventive music. The effect is like the most spaced out fantasy role playing book ever, made even more fractal when moving between headphones and speakers. By the end we are caught up in zones of deep space at the convergence of radio transmissions from other worlds.
A strum bridges the gap into Incidents at the Fifth Stone Quarry but the sound is cleaner now. This time the pace is slowly accompanied by the low rumble of Junzo’s vocal incantations lying like a fog over the moors. Free jazz drum rolls and pops like tumbling folds in the landscape. The second track follows the first in concept but the elements here suggest frenetic movement and a static permanence all in the same instant. Time and physics being fucked with make these 10 minutes feel like days and milliseconds.
And for the third and final time, the strum bridges into the title track Se Una Notte D’Inverno Un Viaggiatore with gentle pillows of percussion and a beautiful glowing droning organ. Music that hangs in the air like dust in the sunlight. Its slowly marrying elements combine into a heady bliss that I want to last for 3 or 4 times more than its 7 minute earthbound footprint.
Much of Junzo’s music, has what may initially feel like it has abrasive surface quality. Quite possibly the whole approach to Se Una Notte D’Inverno Un Viaggiatore could, in the wrong hands become a headache inducing mess. But as each of these three tracks beautifully showcase, his concept moves from density towards spaciousness.
Each step of this weird journey is hugely immersive, but the light that shines out of the concept, even at its sparsest, proves we are dealing with absolute treasure here. Music that connects to your brain in a way I’ve rarely, if ever, experienced, and it’s staggeringly good. Perhaps even the most interesting album yet from an artist that never stops moving forward. Yaaas!!!
Se Una Notte D’Inverno Un Viaggiatore is out on plunk’s plan recording on August 11, available to pre-order here