Fugu was recorded in 1995, not long after Fields returned to music after what he says were “15 years of trying to find something I liked to do better.” (Fields was barely 21 when he quit music and, he now says, “it’s not as though I was a big deal and anyone missed me. I was the only one who knew I was retired and even that took me a few years to realize.”) Fugu was first released on Fields’ own, short-lived, label Geode. Fields wrote the compositions for dance, specifically for the chorographer Li Chiao-Ping. But, as Fields explains in his liner notes, the music’s irregular (usually additive), and frequently changing, time signatures, not to mention numerous changes in tempo, proved too difficult for most dancers to follow. Of the five compositions on Fugu, only “The Plagiarist” is in a simple meter, 4/4. But its high tempo, just somewhat less than the 300 beats per minute marked on the score, presents its own difficulties for dance. One composition was choreographed and none were performed. Tonally all of the material, and to a large extent the improvised sections as well, work within what Fields says is a radically simplified version of Stephan Dembski’s post-serial pitch organizations system, sometimes called a system of circles. This system generates related sets of seven-pitch scales that are used the same way as common major and minor scales, but in different patterns. This version of the Scott Fields Ensemble grew out of Fields’ first post-retirement group, the Silt Loam Ensemble, whose recorded output consisted of two cassette-only releases. Bassist John Padden, an original member of Silt Loam, was primarily a classical musician. Fields says Padden was one of his favorite people to play with because of his beautiful sound, solid time, and generous temperament. Geoff Brady, also a Fields favorite, joined Silt Loam shortly before it morphed into a Fields-led group. Padden and Brady, along with vibist Robert Stright, who earned a doctorate in music composition at the University of Wisconsin, appear on Fields’ first Geode CD, Running with Scissors. For cellist Matt Turner, Fugu was the first of many recordings, tours, and performances with Fields. Turner also appears on the Fields recordings 48 Motives, Disaster at Sea, Sonotropism, 96 Gestures, and Christangelfox. Fields recruited Turner shortly after the cellist returned to his native Wisconsin from Boston.