Luigi Turra | Fukinsei
Two years after his “Alea” release on the LINE imprint, Luigi Turra returns with a collection of new explorations in microsound on the Tokyo-based mAtter label. Fukinsei finds the Italian sound artist continuing his investigations into abstract structures of lowercase sound, silence and the delicate balance between the two.
This is a highly stylized approach to electroacoustic composition, with single sounds placed very deliberately into the musical narrative. Great care has been taken to counterbalance tiny sine waves, electrical pulses and subtle synth drones with acoustic sounds such as guitar, field recordings and shakuhachi. The shakuhachi is a traditional Japanese bamboo flute, and the sounds sourced from this instrument are the most compelling on this record. Not only the notes produced from the flute, but the breaths of the player have been captured, processed and infused into these pieces. The bright sine-like tones of tuning forks have also been employed to add resonance to these recordings, the decay of which leaves metallic vapour trails among the micro-edits and cut-ups.
The other sound source that needs to be addressed is the human voice, as the album begins with a whisper on “[Imperfection] I”. Reminiscent of the work of ambient experimentalist Felicia Atkinson, these soft voices travel around the listener’s ears like exercises in ASMR. Barely audible, the words are just out of reach, their meaning always elusive. But the textures they generate are otherworldly, like communications from another dimension. Second track, “[Imperfection] II”, blend sine tones, guitar, rattling found sounds and flute into a haunting whole bringing to mind images of the vibrancy of Japanese summer festivals.
The album is split into three themes: Imperfection, Asymmetry and Abrasion, although the track titles use the French spelling, as mentioned in regard to the first two pieces. The next two tracks, “[Asymetrie] I” and “[Asymetrie] II”, make use of the shakuhachi’s wobbliness in output. This produces weird melodic phrases, all bathed in the instrument’s woody tone that sound very unconventional by Western standards, placing the music in a uniquely Japanese context. There is a fascination in Japanese aesthetics by western sound artists, that connects to Zen-like notions of space, patience and minimalism. The sonic interpretations of these ideas make for interesting listening.
The next suite of tracks represents a slightly harsher approach, but still restrained and controlled. “[Abrasivité] I – V” finds Turra letting the drones escalate in volume and density, and the breaths of the shakuhachi player more prominent. But despite these elements, these pieces fit perfectly into the overall flow of the album, and I think the titles refer to the processing more than the resulting audio. Final track “[Abrasivité] V” begins with a loud guitar twang, probably the most intense musical event on the album, and additional flute warbles interact with the guitar strums in ever so slightly jarring ways. This last piece feels like a jolt, a playful nudge to rouse the listener from the meditative state the preceding music had applied.