El Fog: Rebuilding Vibes

El Fog's Rebuilding Vibes feels so much like a quintessential ~scape project, it's only fitting that Polemeister Stephan Betke mastered the album. The sleeve credits Masayoshi Fujita (originally from Japan and currently Berlin-based) with “vibraphone and production,” which could suggest that the album's a bare-bones collection of solo vibes playing; in fact, it's considerably more than that, as Fujita augments the instrument with, in some cases, the jazz-flavoured accompaniment of a bassist and drummer and, in others, with a texturally enhanced, electronic-styled backing of minimal slo-funk pulses and broken beats (the opening “Broken” an exemplar). As a result, the material is at times a bit Pole-like in the precision of its sound design, in particular a track such as “Flip and Dub” where a slow-motion dub bass line snakes its way through a jazz-funk stream of bluesy vibes soloing, and reminiscent of 1+3+1, the collaboration between Triosk and Jan Jelinek laid down in 2003. Though “!” gets its glitch-funk freak on for a wild three minutes, Rebuilding Vibes is generally languorous in tone, with tracks like “Autumn” and “Space for the Rebuilding” etching out relaxed electroacoustic spaces dominated by the groan of acoustic bass, smears of static, and the sparkle of the vibraphone; the becalmed closer “Dunst” even flirts with 12k and Line territory in its embrace of micro-sound stillness. Fujita, whose first album Reverberate Slowly was issued in 2007 on Moteer, uses loops, self-sampling, cut-and-paste techniques, and processing to build his sound into the multi-layered form captured on the album. Imagine the warm shimmer produced by a jazz vibraphone player dropped into the center of a prototypical ~scape album and you've got a pretty good idea of Rebuilding Vibes' mellow, early morning sound.

February 2010