Text by CLOT Magazine
This new mixtape comes from Kosei Fukuda, the Japanese producer and sound artist, who shares his time between Tokyo and Berlin and who has prepared a deep listening hybrid DJ mix.
Fukuda came to the scene in the late 2010s, attracting the attention of Berghain resident Tobias Freund. Fukuda’s sound delves into minimalistic narratives and dark atmospheres, with a penchant for longer drone . These conceptually inclined works culminated in early 2020 in the two-vinyl collection of electro-acoustic improvisations compilation under the philosophical aegis of Enso featuring such acts as Recent Arts, Renick Bell or Rabih Beaini.
Fukuda returns with a full solo project, Reuten, his debut LP and his thirteenth release on the Reiten label – a platform he created to showcase his techno music and the more general, experimental aesthetic agenda of which the club music is but one face. Ruten is a Japanese concept whose closest Western counterpart is the ancient Greek notion of ‘panta rhei. Referencing Heraclitus’ famous adage that ‘everything flows’ is not just the philosophical inspiration behind the album but also the succinct aesthetic manifesto of sorts.
The two albums called Ruten – and Ruten is meant to represent the principle of Ying & Yang, the two elemental forces and the eternal cycle of energy. They signify a journey from the nascent being to the eventual dissolution of everything into nothing. Yet there’s still a deeper message at play: the omnipresence of patterns.
Even the incessant flow of changes is patterned. The philosophers ask what it tells us about reality. The artists offer answers, each coded in the respective artistic language. In this work, Fukuda hints at the idea that a pattern is both an abstract structural quality and a concrete aesthetic value. The music is a complex sonic story about the interlocking meanings of pattern and flow, and it is a meditative exploration of the human experience of this entwinement.
You are about to publish your first LP. What was the creative process like? Did you follow your usual process, or were you experimenting with others? And the intellectual process behind the album as well?
I started this production from my studio outside of Tokyo in Mid 2019. Then Berlin, Switzerland and back in Japan for over a year of the recording process. I went back and forth between Tokyo and the countryside to finalize my pre-masters.
Certain tracks focusing on organic texture and atmosphere could have been affected by my surroundings. However, my aim was to approach abstract contexts, especially later in the album. it was necessary for me to relocate my mindset to a certain direction under any circumstances. surely possible to be inspired by my surroundings, but that was not what I have been intending for this project.
What have you technically been exploring in Ruten (have you used equipment you haven’t used before)? And what were the challenges during its production?
The previously released conceptual EP series was a by-product of my continuous explorations and experiments in electro-acoustic field-focused sound productions, including textures, site-specific recordings, errors in electronic sounds, feedback, noise … importantly, incorrectly using the equipment. I tend not to use certain sounds or techniques repeatedly during these experiments.
The starting point of this album was to allow me to look into these techniques and the knowledge I have gained to achieve certain goals following the concept. This, in this case, was to create the journey through organic texture, which is expressing the aliveness and physicality of the living organisms within a structure to the chaos within the formlessness and fluidity of the void.
My location has been different during the productions, so technical processing was done differently for each track. There were no specific techniques I was focusing on technical-wise. Always focus on flawlessness with what is necessary and supposed to be done to each track or the individual sounds. Both analogue and digital processing were used at its maximum. But finalization for my mix-downs and pre-master procedures was made mostly at my studio in Japan, where I calibrate from the electricity.
I’m intrigued by the concept behind the album title name Ruten, which I read could be assimilated into Heraclitus’ concept of eternal flow, something I’ve been reflecting on considerably, from both scientific and philosophical points of view, the constant movement of atoms, molecules and existence (space and time). How do you see this concept in reflection on your art and practice – and even in your daily life?
I grew up abroad and have been away from my Japanese culture for over half my life. But I find myself very attached to certain aspects of Buddhism and Shinto. This album, titled “流転 RUTEN”, is from ancient Japanese philosophy over 2500 years ago. This type of perspective naturally sticks around with me at certain aspects of my daily lives. I find this always quite intimidating to translate this aspect of understandings in western way.
Nuance may be slightly different. But in a philosophical sense, Heraclitus’s concept “Panta Rhei” is a great short statement. Scientific point of view, Dynamic Equilibrium, Entropy, Schoenheimer, Steiner’s Anthroposophy and Jung greatly impacts my perception.
You are also a sound artist, what are your main aims and interests in that field?
I have been painting, etching, and sculpturing to explore mixed media before I start making music. The development of my artistic point of view naturally evolved more into abstract and fluid directions.
Positive passivity-focused improvised live performances, site-specific sound installations and kinetic arts can be the main interest at the moment. I want to further develop this activity into architectural-related performances and sound sculptural installations to expand the audiences’ viewpoint and interlink with their inner spirituality.
As a curator and organizer, I previously invited Mark Fell for a multi-sound live performance event at a shrine in Kyoto two years ago, and it was really something. I want to continue this project series as part of my social engagement as soon as this infamous situation finds its way out.
Bilde, Kuenstler, rede nicht !
Nur ein Hauch sei dein Gedicht !
What is your relationship with technology nowadays, and how do you use it for your practice? And how do you cope with technology (screen/digital) overload?
I am from the mid-90s, so I grew up with the screen / digital technologies. I feel quite comfortable with this issue. I tend to keep the right balance for it. With work, it is necessary.
Communications, research, DAW, google Maps… Overload is not an option.