Review: Fumio Miyashita – Live On The Boffomundo Show

The special energy of this record’s opening half, recorded and broadcast live on LA’s The Boffomundo Show back in 1979, is the result of a twofold process. Firstly: cramming Fumio Miyashita’s synthesisers, percussive instruments and objects into the small room of Theta Cable Studios in Santa Monica – keys, buttons and lights cascading around the walls, gongs wedged into the corners, with just enough space for Fumio to swivel to face each of them. Secondly: the resultant performance was captured by placing a microphone in front of a single 12” bookshelf speaker, condensing psychedelic synthesiser lines, field recordings and intermittent gongs into a monophonic totem stack. The sound is beautiful, pressed inward so that instruments appear to rise transcendently out of others, so that overtones send the entire piece into a gentle throb, so that drum machines ridge the drones like a pulse protruding from the vein. The energy is unquestionably vertical. There’s a moment during the second movement when white noise rolls in, smothering the synths like a soft mist, as though our spiritual ascension has carried us through a layer of cloud. Elsewhere, Fumio tethers lead lines to drones like kites, sending improvisations whirling and looping across recordings of birdsong, delicately obedient to the tonal anchor that rests upon the earth far below.

Fumio returned in March 1980 with a guitarist and bass player in tow, the results of which make up the album’s second half. Jangling chords try to converse with the chatter of electronic space talk, while bass guitar inherits the anchoring duties of those low synthesiser drones. The trio rise and fall within their monophonic chute of earth and sky, gathering into dense improvisations of plucked strings and dancing keys, evaporating into deep space emptiness, immersed in a communal experience that retains the clarity of psychedelic vision present in Fumio working solo. This second performance is 24 minutes long, but there’s a cyclical accumulation and dispersal here that could quite easily go on forever, locked into a throbbing, spiralling loop of life and death, unravelling across time to the ecstasy of its participants, and the dismay of those schedule-bound 1980s television broadcasters.