Maju: Maju-5

“Maju” (pronounced “May-you”), the group name used by Japanese duo Sakana Hosomi and Masaki Narita, is Japanese for “cocoon,” and it's an apt choice given the immersive character of Maju's music. Hokkaido native Hosomi, who established Maju in 1997 and has shared the name with Narita since 2003, was deeply influenced by the forests and fields with which he was surrounded when growing up. Using samplers, effects, and laptops, Hosomi and Narita try to distill the peaceful spirit and physical expanse of that rustic setting into sound. Certainly Maju succeeds in evoking expanse by having its tracks unspool for as much as twelve minutes on its fifth Extreme release (four of the seven tracks are in the ten-minute range) and having them flow uninterruptedly from one into the next, and the ambient character of the compositions does much to intensify their meditative impact too. The style isn't unfamiliar—in essence, the hour-long Maju-5 presents multi-textured drones of varying intensity levels (sometimes placid, sometimes windswept) that teem with organ tones, clicks, willowy streams, percussive babble, shimmering waves, and insect chirp—but without question Maju executes it with precision.

July 2008