KOUTARO FUKUI: Gently Touching The Conception (SEM Label)


Posted on Feb 4th 2010 08:59 am

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Koutaro Fukui: Gently Touching The Conception

Gently Touching The Conception
SEM Label 2009
03 Tracks. 44mins00secs

Koutari Fukui is a man of many hats – sometimes film music maker, label owner, commercial sound designer – but a full-time sound sculptor. Sculpture is the right visual metaphor for Gently Touching The Conception, as the three pieces contained within are stuttering, lush monoliths carved from slabs of ambient drone. At nearly twenty minutes in length, Gently starts off as a kind of tease, as Fukui debuts caustic samples of the clicks, scratches, and tones that build out the second half. It’s a bit of a rocky start, and liable to scare away first-time listeners, but allowing Fukui his indulgences yields the stunning progression of the piece. The tonal source material here sounds rather basic – airy squelches, sparse and distant piano, and a sine wave bass loop ambling along. The soundtrack to something contemplative and probably pretentious, surely, but Gently admirably never feels like its been prodded to unnecessary lengths.

After the valley-mountain-valley structure of Gently, the remaining pieces, Touching and The Conception are more upfront and consistent. Announcing itself with a channel-oscillating series of high-pitched sine tones (which, admittedly, will either be entrancing or headache-inducing, depending on the mind/ears they reach), Touching is an airy affair, as the aforementioned tones gradually mutate into minor-key organs, reminiscent of Tim Hecker’s ambient nostalgia.

Touching transforms subtly into The Conception, the latter piece evolving from a section bathed in heavy, sleepy reverberation. The Conception brings the album full circle a third of the way through, with the reintroduction of the crispy synth percussion that marks the most complex passages of Gently. Rather than becoming a rhythm-dominated piece, however, The Conception becomes a study in frequency ranges, with its most notable parts being a sub-bass murmur and more Touching-esque high-pitched buzzes. Halfway through, Fukui essential reinterprets the genesis blocks from the beginning of the piece, ending with eight minutes of slow, gorgeous decay.

For someone with film scoring experience, Fukui seems to be utilizing the ability to set moods through music but willfully confusing listeners. There are parts to each of these pieces, which, on their own, would be clearly elegiac, contemplative, celebratory, panic-stricken; the thing is, no one feeling ever dominates. The result is an album that commands some kind of active listening. Even when put on as background music, Gently Touching The Conception has a way of creeping into one’s thoughts.


Koutaro Fukui | Koutaro Fukui (MySpace) | SEM Label

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