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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Isostatic The Forest Abides (2022)

An album which should please the fans of dark vibes with hints of an unexplained darkness...

1 Enter the Greenwood 6:02

2 The Major Oak 8:11

3 Solitude in the Forest 8:56

4 Swayed by the Breeze 6:52

5 The Elder Tree 6:31

6 Deep Roots 6:42

7 Among the Pines 7:15

8 The Forest Abides 6:56

(DDL 57:27) (V.F.)

(Dark Ambient Drones)

Woodland Structure is the first Isostatic album I reviewed. And at the time, I was far from being convinced that Sean Costello had built the structures of a cosmographic musical excursion through the mythical English forests. Instead, I detected a futuristic vision that was quite intense at times, with certain ambiences that were so close to those of Blade Runner. What is the link between this Woodland Structure and THE FOREST ABIDES? Well, this new album-download of Isostatic is a sequel to the first album of the English artist that appeared on the label Synphaera in 2019. And unlike his first album, I literally plunged into a universe, still quite intimate for the size of the project, where the forest, its trees and its inhabitants are clearly perceptible to the ears. Except for the title track, THE FOREST ABIDES offers 7 totally atmospheric structures. The music projects more shadow effects than melodious visions with an array of tones that exploits heavy droning layers as well as that rhinestone tone that haunts this vision of dark music, injecting a play of shadow and sibylline lights on the slow movements that draw its impulses from the constant pile of vibrating drones.

Enter the Greenwood begins this new adventure in the land of Isostatic's subdued ambiences with a shroud of reverberations floating in suspension. The tone flirts with an ochre essence and its structure defies the principles of atony with delicate ripples in it that follow one another under the sign of emotion. An emotion amplified by the presence of a keyboard and the fingers which animate it by creating a shadow of melody whose tinklings make resurface a zest of melancholy. The Major Oak also benefits from these openings built on different sources of breezes or bass' hummings. The track uses its 8 minutes to metamorphose into textures that develop a latent intensity. More celestial synth waves emerge, a bit like moonbeams on the edge of a forest. They howl in this forest where our ears can perceive the crackling of branches dying before falling into an environment where the synth layers unite their opaline essences with drones, sometimes grainy, that rumble a little louder here. A shadow of bass raises the emotive reach of the title which plunges in a more tenebrous atmosphere in the second half. Some moiré arpeggios and scarlet synth breezes also enhance this post-apocalyptic autumnal setting. A cerulean blue synth wave radiates between the drones and granular breezes that are the basis of Solitude in the Forest. The shadow of the bass extends a well-reverberating layer whose essence casts a dark shroud of resonance that gives a heavy Dark Ambient feel to this ode to solitude. More luminescent layers separate the game between shadows and nitescence in this slow and vague choreography where the color of the layers and their oppositions weave a more than sibylline atmosphere which wants to be the perfect accomplice of a solitary walk in a wood under a moonrise. The opening of Swayed by the Breeze is more sparkling with a rise of elegiac waves. The keyboard is more dominant here with tinkling chords that resonate in a ritornello of which the echo eventually carves a melodious vision that shimmers in those vibrating reverb zones of THE FOREST ABIDES. There is a good level of emotionality in this track!

The Elder Tree is a plant that grows in nitrogen-rich soil. And it is a little the color of the ambiences of this title which evolves with undulating pushes. Diaphanous filaments escape from it, letting hear sylvan murmurs that infiltrate this mass of drones. The ambient movement takes off from this mass, sailing through subtle surges where the contrasts in the tenebrous tints let hear a distant choir that nevertheless suffocates in the atone heaviness of The Elder Tree. It is not always dark in the universe of THE FOREST ABIDES! Deep Roots starts with bird's chirps that get lost in the elevation of synth waves that are both black and at the same time marked by this cosmic poetry that Michael Stearns imagined in Chronos. The title evolves with these chirpings and a slow atmospheric melody woven by a synth more musical here than elsewhere in this album. The layers draw slow arabesques that intertwine their contrasts while flirting with a translucent texture. In an opening dedicated to the ornithologist in us, which I am not, Among the Pines emerges from its cocoon of reverberations to let fall a thin shimmering line from its long sigh of shimmering mist. The contrast between the two shades gives a splendid effect of ectoplasmic melody in a setting always as dark, on the verge of gloomy, and always as nourished of these heavy resonances which sometimes sound like the slow propulsion of a space shuttle. There was no source of rhythm in THE FOREST ABIDES until we get to its title track. Before that, its opening is stigmatized by an even more smothering texture with a pile of glassy drones and squeakings that seem more intense than on the other 7 tracks of the album. A splendid and unexpectedly Berlin School style rhythm sequence emerges from this heavy droning drone around the 100 second mark. Its ascending structure radiates a rhythmic poetry in its intermittent and spaced phases between the surges of these clear-dark layers that give this sensation of claustrophobia in a yet large space where nature and its tranquility remain semi-choked by the lifeless heaviness of its reverberating mists. A good album which should please the aficionados of a dark ambient music with the hints of the unexplained darkness of a forest and its nocturnal mysteries.

Sylvain Lupari (December 16th, 2022) *****

Available at Exosphere Bandcamp

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

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