I’ve been listening to Summer Tree for weeks in a kind of critic’s trance. Tamura has been a prolific composer alongside his wife and frequent collaborator Satoko Fujii for fifty years. Summer Tree is only his fifth totally solo record and the first where he’s used overdubbing. Natsuki is using techniques he’s been experimenting with for ages, but here he piles the noteless trumpet blasts, kitchenware percussion, stark piano, and his melodic muted trumpet in layers, creating something all together new, fascinating, and somewhat frightening.
Listening to the record, I’m brought back to Stanley Kubrick’s use of abstract, experimental composers for key scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. “Summer Wind” finds Tamura beating out what sounds like alarm bells going off on a wok. The trumpet parts are mostly breath sounds, squeals, and smears, evoking a host of demons stalking the unwary in the ruins of the Fukushima power station. “Summer Dream” is unsettling wind drones, unsettling plinking on the upper register of the piano, and Satoko Fujii vocalizing without words. My imagination creates a more unsettling version of Ringu to go with these sounds.
I love Summer Tree in all its weirdness and abnormal textures. It would be perfect for the radio show “Difficult Listening” that used to air here in Tampa. Natsuki Tamura will challenge your ideas of what music is and expand your horizons of what music can be.