FORREST FANG: Ancient Machines (2019)
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
“This is a beautiful album which is much more attractive and melodious on the first discovery than the vast majority of Forrest Fang's albums”
1 Ancient Machines 5:46
2 The Celestial Diver
I. Winds Of Betelgeuse 6:38
II. Shooting Star 6:22
III. Traceries 5:45
3 In Air, It Seems 5:04
4 Firefly Run 7:48
5 Smoke Rings 4:47
6 A Recursive Tale 5:45
7 The Other Earth 9:59
8 Zone One 8:09
9 Night Swan 6:54
(CD/DDL 73:06) (V.F.)
Always enchanting, the universe of Forrest Fang flows with these multiple layers of reverberations from synth lines and from the multiple effects of gongs and of traditional percussions to which the mystery is grafted with piano lines, guitar riffs and filaments of violins. A long formula to paraphrase the 73 minutes of ANCIENT MACHINES! Structured in a minimalist approach which pays homage to the pioneers of the genre, the music of the Sino-American composer is rich in its Buddhist tradition where many drummed percussions on clay twirl. The shapes and the colors of these percussive containers are the basis of a musical richness conducive to our reveries with its cinematic as well as electronic approaches, and its panoramas which fix the music of Forrest Fang in a universe where the doors leading to the roads remain buried in our imagination.
In this universe of his own, the title track sets the tone with a structure enlivened by a mesh of Asian percussions twirling in a dense sound fabric. Rumblings take refuge there and they thunder in mute with a complicity between the more ethereal synth layers which will last throughout ANCIENT MACHINES. Winds of Betelgeuse begins the saga of The Celestial Diver with a rhythm driven by acoustic guitar chords and various drums performing on clay. The ambiences, overshadowed by this continual mesh of dark lines and of resonances from the percussions, breathe the hymns of gypsy festivals. Shooting Star counterbalances with an ambient introduction filled of nostalgia. An acoustic melody grips it, freezing a less intense and catchy rhythm than that of Winds of Betelgeuse. And if I'm not mistaken, I even hear distant hums whose surreal approach is dancing with these synth lines which have more iridescent tones on this track whose eddy's effects, here like at its opening, ultimately give a glaucous appearance to the little universe of The Celestial Diver. Appearance denied by Traceries and its melody sits on a rhythm between the first and the second intermission of this long fable dedicated to Piero Milesi. And this rhythm, more melodic than dancing, although it's possible to dance on it, weaves an earworm that will refuse to leave its cocoon. Even if In Air, It Seems makes floating its moods around a dark and very moving melancholy. A tearful violin on a piano and its funeral structure that turns into a delicious musical monument worthy of the funeral of our heroes in Game of Thrones. We are here in the most beautiful moments of this album.
In a setting favoring a symphonic orchestra tuning its instruments, Firefly Run propels its winds of sonic dust in a heavy dull veil with movements propelled by these winds. We hear a string instrument wandering a melody that suffers from its anonymity in a structure as opaque as that of In Air, It Seems. Melody less. This universe reminds me a lot of Ray Lynch's music in Deep Breakfast. Smoke Rings makes us jump with this dance of Tibetan percussions which drumming a structure of transcendental meditation with Asian essences. The rhythm is ambient and is filled with a limitless imagination at the level of the textural layers of the percussions coming from multiple local tribes. The sound is exceptional in this title which surprises by the diversity of the percussion sounds. A Recursive Tale offers a good refrain revolving like a lullaby with piano notes sculpted alongside other percussion phenomena in different colors of clay. The atmospheres are as dense as in Smoke Rings with synth sails filled of secret whispers. The Other Earth follows with a long range of ambiences where the music drifts between the wiishh and the wooshh in a slow morphic ballet. The particles of the mists dry between sky and ground, creating dust of sounds which are propelled between the multilayers of the winds whose songs of percussive chords end up by charming our interrogation. Slow but catchy, Zone One offers a lascivious rhythm well nourished by the percussions' arsenal of Forrest Fang. The envelope remains very electronic with this mass of layers of foggy and misty synth whose mesh of these two elements weaves a thin line of astral voices. Night Swan puts an end to this album with a vision that breathes a little that of Firefly Run and its opaque mantle of orchestrations where however filter out the harmonic tingling of clay tones' percussions. A beautiful album which is much more attractive on the first discovery than the vast majority of Forrest Fang's albums.
Sylvain Lupari (February 27th, 2020) *****
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp