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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

FORREST FANG: The Book of Wanderers (2020)

Magical, mystical, ethnic and folkloric; Forrest Fang and his music are in a class of their own

1 An Atom on a Long Chain 9:09

2 Song of the Wanderer 5:54

3 Tale of the Egret 8:05

4 Astir 4:00

5 Atlantis 12:44

6 Elephant Steps 6:24

7 Chasing Stars 5:47

8 From the Hollows 8:28

9 Water Pod 4:22

10 Kepler's Return 6:20

(CD/DDL 71:20) (V.F.)

(Tribal Ambient)

The notes of a luminous piano trace a zigzagging appearance that runs in an iridescent breeze of sibylline colors. It's like hearing Philip Glass' repetitive piano. This opening seems to reflect on its future to finally undertake a modern dance choreography with a staging drawn from the echoes of the piano and its intoxicating notes which literally fly by alternating touches briskly. The flow is thus accentuated like in an avant-garde ballet. Bass pulsations second the pace of the piano which zigzags madly in the slow floating orchestrations. An Atom on a Long Chain carries its music admirably in relation to its title, when Forrest Fang undertakes a 3rd rhythm structure which slightly slows the pace in silky orchestrations. A very good title which undoubtedly initiates the most beautiful album of the Sino-American musician to date. When I really want to get off the hook, I often turn to the music of Forrest Fang. His predominantly acoustic ambient tribal style, the synths are weavers of atmospheres, has no equal in bringing us towards musical panoramas that we easily create on the paths of his sometimes convoluted music and sometimes turned towards progressive New Age. THE BOOK OF WANDERERS is a splendid album with strong moments of intensity which are comforted through peaceful ambient landscapes filled of wisdom.

Like with Song of the Wanderer which is a great tribal ballad animated by gamelan percussions, creating a herd of bells supported by a piano with a subdued tone. Winds of mist surround the rhythm with an appearance of sunburnt silk. You hear voices that prove you are right and give an enigmatic lightness to Song of the Wanderer. Tale of the Egret makes the strings of an acoustic instrument murmur which unties the moods by creating an illusion of tribal celebration. Robert Rich's flute reigns over the first part of this title inviting for a spiritual trance while a zither bewitches our momentary submission in a stunning title which best explains the ambient tribal expression. Astir offers good melodious music with a union of piano to a flotilla of violins in order to make the trees of this forest crying with the colors and breaths of iron oxide. Atlantis lives in an intense sound broth. A moving decor to which are grafted different sound elements that surround the melody plucked by an acoustic guitar. Its panorama is made up of stringed instruments, orchestral layers, violins with waltzing wings, ocher breezes and the murmurs of the wood fairies. This circular aria draws a shadow, dancing in an aerial dive which is the enchanting heart of this intense fight between melody and its contrasting elements.

Breezes of tranquility are thundering powerful tribal percussions, strongly supported by clicking of fires in an overheated ambience. In a very Vangelis ambience, Elephant Steps takes us out of this long phase of atmospheres with a crazy rhythm. Knocks and various clay percussions refuse any rhythmic coordination in this tribal trance where cries are heard. A wall of shouts, forging a choir with murderous rioting intensity. A title of incredible intensity that made my Totems tremble. Speaking of Vangelis, Chasing Stars is a superb electronic melody which intoxicates us with its carousel of moiré arpeggios which goes up and down under a sky lit by its thousands of stationary prisms. From the Hollows is a dark ambient track with a texture of grainy winds blowing on chimes abandoned in the deserts of the future. The title has a high content of melancholy that manages at times to lead us into sordid ambiences where musicians strum stringed instruments without succeeding in sticking something tangible. There is this piano… but it's far away and you can feel its disinterested pianist. I read somewhere that From the Hollows was composed for Brian Eno's birthday. It looks like him, but I find that there is a lot of life, material and texture to ignore the beauties hidden in this title. Water Pod is another cheerful and catchy short tune with a festive folk approach. There is some Sensitive Chaos in this title, but in more tribal pagan, and these nice intoxicating tinkles of Gamelan percussions and the zither. Kepler's Return ends this other brilliant Forrest Fang album with a dense atmospheric mosaic filled with drone buzzing. Our ears perceive the presence of this strange choir which has furnished the various walls with the textures of Dark Ambient scattered throughout THE BOOK OF WANDERERS. Built around the residue of chords stretched to the maximum and powdery and dark orchestrations, these walls are the fortresses of an album which offers all its possibilities in order to trap us!

Why sulk his pleasure? Forrest Fang and his music are in a class of their own. Magical, mystical, ethnic and folkloric, THE BOOK OF WANDERERS 'music is a huge atmospheric canvas where it takes us through different stories that all display a high level of professionalism. A superb album, powerful, intense and without weaknesses where illusion and disillusion amazes and surprises.

Sylvain Lupari (February 27th, 2020) ****½*

Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp

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