Ambient Storytelling with Fat Jon

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Image from hhv.de

In the midst of night, when the nearby shops have shut off their lights and the street lights illuminate in the patch of darkness, the only glow you see beyond the window of your bedroom is the leftover glow of the lights displayed.

With an occasional automobile passing through the street every so often, you’re not left with much when the world decides to finally slumber. For those idle moments, it’s often encouraged to supplement those moments with the right type of ambiance.


There is a sultry quality of Fat Jon’s music. The sultry quality, although now becoming an approachable technique for instrumental music, was not yet taken into account before the likes of Fat Jon, Tim Hecker, or Nujabes.

Fat Jon’s music, in particular, has a meditative trance to it. Each of his songs has a certain sound that he plays with, adding vignettes and nuances to the main focus. Although he manages to level his style with these variations, there’s a simple meditative quality that defines his music compared to the rest of his musical likes.

Fat Jon, previously identified as one of the two members of 3582, retrieved international notoriety when conducting much of the music behind the cult classic anime series, Samurai Champloo. Alongside producer Nujabes as well as the affiliated composers, the show’s well-rounded sound is what shot the producers into the midst of attention.

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Image from discogs.com

The series ran from 2003 to 2004, a short time span before the emergence of YouTube recommendations and long before the advent of Spotify and Apple Music. Much of Fat Jon’s music may have been overlooked beyond the circle of the show’s esoteric followers.

Beyond 2005, Fat Jon utilized his minimal notoriety and released instrumental qualities such as Afterthought in 2006, Hundred Eight Stars in 2007, and Repaint Tomorrow in 2009, to name a few. Although, his days after the 3582 timeframe conduced albums such as Wave Motion in 2002 and Lightweight Heavy in 2004.


Fat Jon is a savant displayer of sedation. His music can elude beauty, sorrow, and poignancy all within sound alone. Each of his projects is a conglomerate of tracks that enable their own journeys.

In between the average time duration of four to five minutes on average, Fat Jon’s music can have the thematic effect that much of Tim Hecker has throughout his musical career.


With Wave Motion, the sound quality is crisp and polished, but there’s a feeling of humidity. It’s music that is typically listened to in the background of an isolated and arcane experience. Wave Motion is a portrayal of sound semblance.

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Image from allmusic.com

There is no rugged quality or use of vinyl skips that the likes of Madlib would like to use. The lo-fi gush doesn’t come from predated equipment but from the hidden sounds of earthly and warm noise.

In the case of Wave Motion, my personal favorites that exemplify this are tracks such as Depths, Eyes, and Visual Music. In Visual Music, there are bouncing drum pelts that ride along with the sultry chords and woofing baseline.

This will last for around a minute in, by which the track will thwart its direction to something gorgeous. The chords now have a life of their own, and switch their palette with respect to the misty sample in the background.


His music is best listened to during bouts of rumination or just to supplement concentration. Although, this isn’t the best to take as background noise. A lot of Fat Jon music can have such poignant moments that could distract the worker from his task. From one of his more obscure projects, Humanoid Erotica, the track 14 years casts such an enchanting spell.

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Image from amazon.com

I recall the first listening to this early in high school and fully immersed in the story. Without the addition of anything besides the sound it portrays, all the elements blend together to construct a thoughtful and seemingly enchanting journey for its mere five minutes.


With the advent of saturated streaming services and many more high-profile musicians taking this approach, artists like Fat Jon can be stomped into the hivemind that they’ve initiated.

Fat Jon was needed in a moment in time. If he were to release his music today, he probably would have been overwhelmed by the immensity of the artists out there trying out the same formula. His music came in the right place at the right time, once he displayed his talents in the show Samurai Champloo.

For that moment in time, it was his music, along with the support from others, that brought his image to the eyes of the witnesses. For that reason alone, Fat Jon will always be a relic in the enmesh of today’s musical freedom.

 

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