The first release from this quartet, Fuubutsushi, was a delightful surprise. Matthew Sage, Patrick Shiroishi, and Chaz Prymek (aka Lake Mary) have all put out a clutch of impressive solo efforts and Chris Jusell is an accomplished violinist and someone whose work I need to search out. Together they have created another collection of organic songs that make me long for the green shoots of spring.
Nobody takes center stage on Setsubun. All four participants may have their moment in the sun, but there is an expert mix of space and connection between each that shows a way forward. Sage’s gentle, methodic progressions on “White Out” merge seamlessly into Jusell’s soaring, heartfelt violin passages before propelling into a magic zone of vintage ECM meets TNT-era Tortoise. Shiroishi and Prymek exchange glances and tip-toe around each other as the sound of snow crunching underfoot leads to new horizons. It’s so transcendent and comforting.
When Shiroishi’s voice shows up on the tail end of opener “Lavender,” it’s an invitation to come inside this world and make yourself at home. Pastoral jazzbient suites, song after song, that feel like a warm blanket in the coldest, darkest night appear to emanate out of thin air. This quartet insist on holding you in a lasting embrace and guiding you through these smooth aural pastures until you are safely through to the end. Setsubun is an old friend that is happy to accompany you if you want to turn around and head back inside for one last song. Beautiful.