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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Forrest Fang The Lost Seasons of Amorphia (2022)

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Enigmatic, dark and lyrical, there is emotion to the square inch in this Fang CD

1 The Isle of Welcome 21:46

2 Throwing Salt 7:45

3 Inlets 5:58

4 A Shadow on the Shore 11:00

5 From Post to Palm 8:09

6 Distant Figure 5:44

7 Urchins 8:22

(CD/DDL 68:48) (V.F.)

(Ambient tribal EM)

What an enchanting title! And unlike its title, which can be interpreted by different ways, the music of THE LOST SEASONS OF AMORPHIA is anything but amorphous. For Forrest Fang, the 69 minutes of this new album offer moods modulated by the different levels of intensity that inspire them, depicting those long moments, those seasons lost in the latest planetary upheavals. And the music breathes all these contrasts with atmospheric phases that are conducive to meditation, even in these phases tossed of stationary jolts. The Chinese-American musician extends the arsenal of his know-how with textures and layers of hand percussions and oriental stringed instruments from which the beats and the plucks sparkle with a thousand sonic reflections in the apathetic heaviness of synth layers with their slow, buzzing reverberations. Enigmatic, dark and lyrical, there is emotion to the square inch in this THE LOST SEASONS OF AMORPHIA.

A rich, evolving track that flirts with the 22-minute mark, The Isle of Welcome was composed on the Thanksgiving evening in the fall of 2021 for Chuck van Zyl's acclaimed Star's End radio show. Its opening is woven with orchestral layers that float and drift with emotional fluctuations. The texture is semi-granular with barely audible vocal effects, as does the piano that crumbles its musings in a rather melancholy mood. The opening slides until it meets a fusion of piano and Asian zither about 40 seconds into the 3rd minute. The notes follow each other in an alternating pattern, creating a cascade that shapes an ambient rhythm structure. The string instrument makes also drift arcs of Chinese melodies, while the orchestrations weave a vision of repressed passion and assumed melancholy with tender weeping of a nostalgic violin in the background of this cadenced cascade. A third mutation of The Isle of Welcome occurs a little after the 10th minute, offering an atmospheric passage linked to tender orchestral moans on reverberating waves of a synth that fills the scene with a sibylline vision. Its droning irradiation serves as a bed for a duel between gongs and gamelan percussions whose sparkles weave a feast of scintillations under the muffled bites of a bass layer. Here again, the rhythm is meditative. It subtly transforms itself in a troubled passage that densifies with a heap of synth layers whose tenebrous texture ends up enveloping a structure of tinkling and/or percussive chords, freezing between our ears and for the pleasure of our neurons the trot of a distant and fascinating sequence of ambient rhythm. Speaking of trotting, this is how Throwing Salt starts a delicate and improbable lullaby. The percussions, which sound like opaline arpeggios, eventually weighs down its hypnotic step to a slow and rather heavy ascent under a pile of synth layers and waves. Their textures, always dark, give the impression of wanting to drown this cadence which wanders between a circular and ascending vision. But no matter, the music, with its haunting harmonies, sparkles with a thousand sonic brilliance with this mix of gamelan percussions and other string chords in a magnetizing whirlwind of sounds that lazily rotates so that one can admire the many contrasts of its tonalities. More fluid, From Post to Palm offers an equally beautiful texture of melody that chimes with a Sino-Amerindian tribal rhythm. The orchestrations float like silk veils and the Chinese violin is delectable in this beautiful, exhilarating and melodious track. Moreover, Dave Newhouse, whom we heard on Scenes From a Ghost Train, plays the flute. What are the instruments that make up the stationary dynamism of Inlets? Unlike Throwing Salt, the structure relies on a set of brightly plucked string instruments with dancing prism tones which are swirling in a lively and yet stationary flow. As the track progresses, a moiré percussive texture is heard in its background. I imagine there a fascinating Chinese shadows choreography on this track that could easily make a Cirque du Soleil dancer-acrobat twirl. Beautiful and striking! With its huge shadow of iridescent and iodized particles that glitter in suspension, A Shadow on the Shore admirably bears the meaning of its title. This long linear mass of sounds exploits a deafening texture, sounding like dozens of voices walled up in nothingness, which roars as if driven by tornado tentacles filled with grains of sand. It's heavy and murky with a mesh of various percussive elements (gongs, gamelans, and the like) whose tinkles fizzle under dark axes of caustic drones. Although the winds howl with force in Distant Figure, the music is slightly less dark with piano chords that melt into nature samplings, I hear like a flowing stream. A short and beautiful moment of meditative moods before our ears wake up to the fabulous Urchins. A first tinkling weaves a line of sparkling reflections, opening the door to an undulating and ascending movement that a sequencer forges in ambient Berlin School mode. Soberly dressed keyboard chords sparkle alongside the rhythm, creating two adjacent structures where rhythm and its melody merge in a pleasant meditative texture. Its envelope is woven in this haze of cosmic orchestrations that evolves more and more towards our ears, quietly distancing this sequence of rhythm that ends one of Forrest Fang's very beautiful albums.

Sylvain Lupari (November 30th, 2022) ****½*

Available at Projekt Records

(NB: Text in blue are links you can click on)

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