By Mark Barrott
Mark Barrott is an artist that creatively speaking, never stops moving. His musical career has taken many forms. Some know him as Future Loop Foundation, the alias he used to create and perform ambient drum and bass from the mid-90s. Some know him for his Sketches from an Island albums, which he released under his own name, and others know him as the founder of the highly influential International Feel label, a label that spearheaded the bespoke vinyl movement of the 2010’s and brought DJ Harvey out of studio retirement. Barrott has spent close to four decades exploring new sonic territory and pushing the boundaries of various genres and is considered a pivotal figure in the revival of the Balearic music scene of the last decade.
Barrott’s new album, ’Jōhatsu (蒸発)’, is predictably unpredictable. Due for release this April on Above & Beyond’s new downtempo imprint Reflections, the album is a full departure from anything Mark has written before, partly because he was writing to moving picture. In 2019, Mark was commissioned by a director to write the score for their new documentary, ‘Jōhatsu (蒸発) ... the art of Evaporation’.
‘Jōhatsu (蒸発)’ is an 8-track journey through the sounds, sights, smells and sensations of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.
Every year, it is estimated that as many as 100,000 people in Japan vanish, without a trace. These are the so-called johatsu. The “evaporated people”. People become jōhatsu for many different reasons including addiction, divorce and job loss. While some people may consider taking their own lives, others simply… evaporate. Jōhatsu refers to these people who purposefully leave the lives they knew behind.
‘Jōhatsu... the art of Evaporation’, shadowed a Japanese man as he went through this exact process, paying a contractor to help him vanish, moving from central Kyoto to Scandinavia. Scene notes from the director and shots of Kyoto at night-time, rural Japan, and Scandinavian forest-scapes informed Barrott’s musical direction for the project.
The tracks on this album are the ‘full’ pieces - those written for the longer sequences of film. The first single and opening track from the album, 'Kyoto (京都)', utilises the art of simplicity. It’s stripped back and minimal, allowing Barrott’s ambient, spontaneous production style to shine through.
‘Jōhatsu (蒸発)’ is a fairly air-tight representation of Mark Barrott as an artist. It’s spontaneous, it’s unexpected, it’s unrestricted and it’s a gorgeous listening experience. It’s the sound of an artist set free, without creative restraints. If music could fly, 'Jōhatsu (蒸発)' has wings.
'Jōhatsu (蒸発)' is out 17th April on Reflections. The first single ‘Kyoto (京都)’ is out now.