I’d never heard of Meitei a month ago. Today, I feel, with conviction, that he’s among the most vital of experimental (or whatever you’d like to call the music we cram under that banner) artists working in 2019, worldwide.

Komachi, in spite of its restrained presentation, is a behemoth of an album. The sort of album that slithers unexpectedly into rotation and knocks out just about everything else. It’s music that both yearns for a fading, perhaps even lost, past, while pushing inexorably into the future.

Fujita (the mononym the attention shy artist opts to go by in conversation) began recording as Meitei last year, offering up the particularly strong Kwaidan, but Komachi is by far his most realized statement to date. Where the ghostly Kwaidan often employed dialogue to drive home the artist’s profound desire to make music that was deeply Japanese, Komachi doesn’t need it. It delivers its message through an often subtle, but always dominant and richly realized, use of sound. This is music so at peace with itself that it can easily pass you by without the care it gently demands, music to pause and lose yourself within, music that can, essentially, transport you to the idealized Japan of Meitei's imagination.

Indeed, Meitei’s chief muse lies in his homeland, in searching for a sense of a Japan gone by. A Japanese ambiance, as he calls it, “the lost Japanese mood.”

The passing of his 99-year-old grandmother proved the stark genesis of Komachi (indeed, the project's title was chosen in her honor). As Fujita viewed her as the sole remaining presence in his life to possess genuine experience with, and memory of, what he sees as this fading ideal, the need to capture, at the least, his own understanding of it grew all the more desperately vital.

That raw sense of genuine need defines Komachi. While Japanese ambient has long been respected among music lovers, the world Meitei creates is entirely to itself. Whereas Kwaidan was largely inspired by Fujita’s time living in Kyoto, this latest effort is grounded more within the very consciousness of an aging Japan.

“I want to revive the soul of Japan that still sleeps in the darkness,” Fujita declares. A lofty goal, to be sure, and a daunting mission for a solitary album to undertake, but as you listen to Komachi, particularly as an outsider, you can’t help but feel that something intangible has been captured, something you’d never have understood without the music as your guide.

None of this is to declare the album a work entirely rooted in the past. Meitei’s own sensibilities and techniques couldn’t be more modern, casting his restless, reverent vision into a unique space, between times.

This is the sort of music any exploratory, brilliant musical mind of the moment might make, were they deeply rooted in their country’s tradition, easily compared to the best of even Brian Eno or Jon Hassel's exploratory "fourth world" efforts, perhaps even more composed and confident, while taking in more recent ideas and tactics (J Dilla being name dropped in the press release isn't without merit).

In essence, Meitei has brought a Japan of days gone by fiercely into the current musical discourse. “Things fade into obscurity when a populace has no interest,” a mournful Fujita reflects. It’s hard to say if Komachi will reach a majority in his home country, but there’s no doubt that international music lovers’ eyes are now exactly where he wants them. This is as much music for lonely evening walks to nowhere as it is for deep reflection on a bygone culture far removed from one’s self. Fujita seems blissfully unaware of the concept of pretense, letting the listener in unguarded to a pilgrimage of soul-searching so rich in its inner world that it can even make our bustling self-obsession seem to slow. Meitei has set an unexpected, definitive standard.