Japanese producer The Future Eve (Tomo Akikawabaya) has announced a landmark collaboration spanning continents and planes of existence. Going under the new name of The Future Eve, he has worked together with the legendary Robert Wyatt to create an electronic journey of sound. But it isn’t the usual musical cooperative.
Robert Wyatt retired from music in 2014, stating “there is a pride in (stopping), I don’t want (the music) to go off.”
But let’s rewind to 1998.
Leftfield electronic producer Th – known for his minimalist, synthesized pieces under the moniker Tomo Akikawabaya such as The Castle (1984), reissued alongside other works on New York’s Minimal Wave Records as The Invitation of The Dead in 2015 – contacted Robert Wyatt.
Towards the end of the 20th century, Th sent me a message asking something like; “do you have any piece of new material we could work on”? I did have. Brian the Fox was an un-placed, un-worked basic idea I had. Unusual for me in that it had no strict tempo, and the words were an attempt to write a text even shorter than a Haiku! (I just recorded it directly onto tape at home, on cassette, no ‘production.) The music ending was improvised – the delay before the final chords was me trying to choose the final few chords… I sent this to Th and Rinko. They have enhanced the idea beautifully.”
The DAT tape reached its destination.
“I received a tape from Robert Wyatt in 1998,” says Th. “The title was “Brian The Fox” and four takes were recorded. I first dubbed layers of sounds to it and Takaaki Han-ya [fellow member of duo Beata Beatrix] took over the piece afterwards. It was dramatically changed and completed after a total of two years.”
But it didn’t stop there.
“I became aware of more possibilities for the piece sometime after we finished the work,” admits Th. “That was the beginning of this long journey.”
“When I read the lyrics for the first time, I felt as if they were like Japanese haiku poetry because of the tight, simple expressionism. Also by seeing within something similar to the impermanence of Buddhism, I was more and more attracted to the tape.”
KiTsuNe – Brian the Fox changes dramatically between its first and second discs. The second – the “Ring Version” – reflects this change of mind, this Buddhist inflection. It combines cinematic, introspective drone and frustrated circuitry electronics for an odyssey of uncertainty vs. eternity.
Indeed, Th explains: “At that time I just lost my mother so I thought I would make this work with the thought and the structure of reincarnation.”
All-encompassing walls of warm sound feel instantly womblike yet empty and expansive at the same time. MIDI converters forge music like “an action painting” unable to be created by a human. These random sounds figure as the frustration, doubt and confusion Th was feeling, as much as they display the uncontrollable, automatic universe at work.
“This [Ring Version] work is not music formatted by using musical scales or instruments,” explains Th. “For this work I wanted to try to capture the mind behind the tape more than the music itself.”
Of course, as well as being an exploration of Th’s own emotion and spirituality, KiTsuNe – Brian the Fox exists as a collabroation and an extension of Wyatt’s own efforts.
“The tape itself and the time Mr. Wyatt spent in his room working is the prototype (substance) of this work,” Th says. “I have decided that the thought of this time, and the space where it was created, is the concept of this production.”
With a sense of detachment and almost scientific intrigue into excavating the depths of what can be done with mechanical processes, reverberations and resonance, Th simultaneously creates an intimate audio comfort blanket; it’s farflung but heartfelt. Laboratory calculations crossed with temple reflections.
“This work is dedicated to my late mother and the world.”