Koutaro Fukui: Gently Touching the Conception

Gently Touching The Conception by Nagoya, Japan-born sound artist Koutaro Fukui (who has appeared on FatCat, Bottropboy, and others but currently resides in Tokyo where he runs the on;(do) label) might be described as an extended exercise in textural sound design that Fukui subjects to constant metamorphosis. The material evolves through numerous episodes over the course of its forty-four minutes, so much so, in fact, that there's as much activity in the opening ten minutes as there is on entire other albums. It's an album, in short, that one could just as easily imagine appearing on Line or Raster-Noton, even if Fukui's album possesses a travelogue-like character that one doesn't generally associate with a Raster-Noton release.

In “Gently,” sounds of weather turbulence (distant gunfire?) give way to micro-sound detail—clicks, hiss, etc.—before abruptly terminating. That stoppage turns out to be an illusion, however, as Fukui then spaces loud, single-note accents far apart with only the faintest textural noise audible between them. Following this rather understated beginning, the material quickly gathers force until it's percolating hyperactively with an energized rhythm pattern and layers of whirrs, washes, and multi-pitched tones. Things settle down slightly, enough to make room for piano playing, a welcome acoustic addition to the electronic churn that's otherwise dominant. The opening track segues seamlessly into “Touching,” which morphs from an insistent drone episode of high-pitched tones into an ambient oasis of church organ chords and warm nature sounds, before the onset of “The Conception.” The latter unfolds in stately and relaxed manner, with bright, reverberant piano chords augmented by rich streams of electronic whistles and textures. The turbulence heard earlier is long past, and the work moves towards its end in a state of becalmed reverie. Whatever the thematic or conceptual notion is that underlies Gently Touching The Conception isn't clarified, but the project engages attention on purely listening grounds alone, especially when it's presented in such a journey-like form.

February 2010