Total Fiction is a composed, ornate record – especially when you consider the slender, appropriate cello – but it doesn’t shy away from expressing its experimental side. On the contrary, in Total Fiction, one is just as important as the other. Shinya Sugimoto and Jeremy Young recorded the album both individually and collaboratively in Osaka, Montreal and New York City. These nine variations for piano, guitar, tapes and cello (played by Julia Kent) went through a lengthy gestation period before being labelled as just right.
Total Fiction is a swirling, gentle mass, light in its gravity despite the heavier sounds of both piano and cello. The experimental sequences inflate the music, keeping it as playful as a pussycat’s tail as they wander off on drunken endeavours, wearing casual shirts and dark blue jeans while the main instruments dress themselves up in proper attire; rebellious teenagers sharing the street with a group of smartly dressed office workers. Other light-hearted sounds are manipulated until they mutate, cutting into the instrumentation with what sounds like a recycled rewinding of a tape. The sober cello is a nanny or a childminder, because she helps to tidy up what unruly children have dropped in the music’s cluttered living room. In the light of a pensive melody, the tonally-deep cello plays another important role: it evens out the abrasive gravel that collects in the music, like a loose scattering of tea leaves at the bottom of a deep mug, at once sweeping up the tonal debris that clutters the piece and sculpting the sound into something like fine pottery.
Chords swell and inflate, not only covering up a recorded transmission that snakes into the track but surrounding it with amiable ambient air. The cello on ‘Sirocco’ swirls in the atmosphere, while the repeating tones of ‘Fiction 4’ are trance-inducing. It’s always hovering on the brink, seemingly ambivalent about the future. The three instruments provide the main musical stimulation, and although the unhurried melodies continue on, you’re never exactly sure when they’ll be the subjects of experimentation. For this reason, Total Fiction has a slightly sharp edge, as if balancing on the corner of a paperback, while the experimental imperfections produce paper cuts which splatter droplets of blood onto the clean pages of its composition.