Limited edition of 180
Out on September 13, 2020
Purchase price in Japan: 1,500 yen (tax not included)
(For purchase outside of Japan, prices vary.)
Produced and mastered by Takuma Kuragaki, Tokyo, Japan, 2019
Artwork and design by Cathy Fishman
Includes an interview of Takuma Kuragaki by Narushi Hosoda (translation by Cathy Fishman)
Towards the Application of Physical Sound Memory
An interview with Takuma Kuragaki (interview and text by Narushi Hosoda)
Electronic sound artist Takuma Kuragaki was born in 1968. Since he began his musical activity in the 1990s, he has presented his creations not only in live music venues, but also in museums and galleries. In 2009, Kuragaki earned an award for excellence in a contest featured in Sound & Recording Magazine in which entrants produced works incorporating material field-recorded by Ryuichi Sakamoto in the Arctic Circle. In 2017, Kuragaki took part in the 3-CD compilation album Prix Presque Rien Prize, made up of entries in the international contest Prix Presque Rien--a competition of outstanding works making use of French composer Luc Ferrari's sound archives. The newly released CD BOTTOMLESS / BLANK is Kuragaki's first full album.
Drawing inspiration from the activities and creations of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, this album--with its key words ''bottomless'' and ''blank''--aims to have listeners become ''users'' who incorporate into their daily lives the experiences gained through the works. In contrast to conventional works of music, which stir up listeners' emotions and provide each individual with their own unique experience, this album--in which radically curtailed minimal sounds are placed sometimes regularly and sometimes at unpredictable intervals--will likely bring listeners the reality of time segmentation. This experience will surely be recalled at unexpected moments in daily life, which is overlaid with a network of various rhythms. How it is applied in these situations is left to each listener.
Q: Tell me about the album title's two key words, ''bottomless'' and ''blank.''
Kuragaki: With both words, I'm taking the titles of works by Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins as motifs. To summarize their work in my own way, ''bottomless'' means something endless and timeless, while ''blank'' refers to a sort of vessel for confirming and receiving this timelessness. In this album, I've expressed these ideas by turning them into music.
Q: How did you produce these pieces?
Kuragaki: I created them using the software Renoise, in which an edit display similar to an Excel chart scrolls vertically. I place sounds on a grid that resembles the squares of a Go board. While thinking back on ''bottomless'' and ''blank'' experiences in my own daily life, I basically place the sounds in a way that will trigger these sorts of experiences in the listener. I might attempt to trace the physical rhythm of going up and down stairs, for example.
Q: So one reason for your very minimal style is to make listeners aware of physical rhythms?
Kuragaki: Yes. I wanted to do my utmost to avoid using so-called musical syntaxes and systems. You could say I created works in which sound remains as a physical sensation, rather than as something that makes an appeal to listeners' emotions. So I used non-instrumental short sounds similar to electronic sound errors. Of course, in terms of error sounds and minimal styles, if you go back in time there was glitch music like Oval (Markus Popp) and the so-called ''onkyo'' musicians, and I liked and often listened to that music at the time (in the 1990s). But this album was influenced more strongly by members of Wandelweiser, like Michael Pisaro and Jürg Frey.
Q: Tell me about the four tracks titled ''BOTTOMLESS.''
Kuragaki: ''First BOTTOMLESS,'' simply put, refers to the fact that it's the first piece. Then ''Count BOTTOMLESS'' has a little rule--''three sounds each.'' Three sounds form one group, and the intervals between the sounds in a group are the same. But the timing of the start of the next group is unpredictable. So it's a piece that meets the listener's expectations at times and betrays them at others. As the name suggests, I created ''Prototype BOTTOMLESS'' as a model for the series: I prepared and arranged several short patterns that would make the listener feel the bottomless experience of ''will this keep going on this way forever?'' ''About BOTTOMLESS'' is the piece I created in the way I felt was easiest to understand, so that the listener would become aware of the bottomless experience prior to verbalization.
Q: How about the two tracks titled ''BLANK''?
Kuragaki: In the BLANK series, I make the silent parts the theme in a simple way. Compared to BOTTOMLESS, I think the sounds in BLANK meet listeners' expectations, since I created the pieces in such a way that it's easier for listeners to ''enter'' the blank, soundless areas than the areas with sound. I think the reason listeners can determine that music meets or betrays their expectations is that there are parts without sound. To increase the density of experience that allows that sort of judgement, in ''BLANK No. 2'' I used more sound arrangements that make the listener feel like ''I already know this,'' and make it possible to focus more on the parts without sound, than I did in ''BLANK No. 1.''
Q: Is the bonus track, ''Landing RME - Live at Ftarri 2017,'' a live recording?
Kuragaki: No, this refers to a recorded sound source that I used in a live performance. In my performances I often play back previously created sound data. This bonus track is a slightly revised version of sound data that I used in a performance in 2017. Incidentally, on this track only, I used PlayerPro software, not Renoise.
Q: Rather than musical ''entertainment,'' this is a stoical work that purely makes the listener aware of division points in time. What made you think of expressing this through sound?
Kuragaki: Needless to say, music is very appealing to me. Although it doesn't last in concrete form, its approach to sensation is quite strong. Compared to other forms of expression, I feel that sonic experience as a momentary phenomenon has the characteristic of triggering feelings in a powerful way. In that sense, the listener as a ''user'' might be able to repeatedly apply their experience of a work of music in their daily life. Conversely, it seems to me that when you move towards performance using media other than sound, with the idea of getting away from music, you often end up actually approaching something musical.
Ftarri home page