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Spacemusic Reviews

Category: Projekt

Forrest Fang: Ancient Machines

Ancient Machines

Ancient Machines

Forrest Fang: Ancient Machines
Released: 2 December 2019
www.projekt.com
www.forrestfang.com

What is Forrest Fang doing for this world? With the release of Ancient Machines (73’06”) he asks us to hear what he hears. By listening to this album we take our first steps into a larger realm – a zone expressly for those desiring to encounter things outside of themselves. These new territories are reached with each of his successive efforts. The 11 luminous, graceful, self-assured tracks found on Ancient Machines seek a timeless space. Reconnecting us with life as it should be this music thrives. The most absorbing material may be compositions that feature violin or piano, which have been plucked, picked, bowed, struck or strummed. Propelled gently by tempo energy their voice and structure heaves under atmospheric weight. In a simultaneous sounding of tones a feeling of rest, of no need for further resolution is produced. Yet on some realizations clashing frequencies produce mildly moody results. A balance of opposing tensions, the connection between disparate sounds may lead us to better connect with unfamiliar ideas. In a slowing that sinks us back in time each piece is an exploitation of carefully chosen and contrasted tonal qualities. Under a building torrent of reverberating electronics this tech-tinged hybrid work seems from a primitive past, somehow beamed to the present day. With its masterful emotive shading Ancient Machines will be good for listeners, and even better for dreamers. Synthetic sonorities are combined with groupings of acoustic sounds and instruments in a specifically composed manner – and form a unity so as to convey the message of the artist. In a blend of art and technology he arranges timbres, pitches, and rhythms in a way so well that it stirs the emotions of the listener. All musical activity by Forrest Fang is the reproduction of the world that surrounds him, by means of the world that is within him – recreated in a personal form and an original manner. As for the listener, meaning is elusive… out where this music’s thousand dreams softly burn.

– Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 December 2019

Steve Roach: Bloom Ascension

Bloom Ascension

Bloom Ascension

Steve Roach: Bloom Ascension
Released: 30 August 2019
www.projekt.com
www.steveroach.com

Bloom Ascension (41:25) is a most striking creation. Here we find Steve Roach as musically insatiable as ever – and working through a life-long commitment to a distinct creative impulse. This album exemplifies the spare patterns, unwinding energy and low-boil minimalist vibe which propelled his Grammy nominated Molecules of Motion (2018) and Spiral Revelation (2017). A robustly orchestrated work, Bloom Ascension very nearly allows us to hear the musician’s mind at work. Conducting ample instrumental forces Roach combines an innate feel for texture and gesture with his interest in the sonic intensity of Electronic Music and the sensual potential of modular synthesis. Each of the four tracks move high into the air, tracing graceful arcs of mechanical precision. With the rippling counterpoint of pinwheel dancing notes and skittering flows of sparked adventure we spin forward. As the whirling designs add additional mysteries, this work’s pulsing, generating minimalism portends a slow but relentless tide of change. In this subtle shift in perspective, a deep down dark descends – leaving behind a trail of echoing notes and quickening chords. Inspired by a dream, we wake to a prophetic mission – and a view of the world which belongs to us all. Exerting an emotional pull Bloom Ascension culminates with spirits revived. Building a world in volume and density, we are drawn in completely – held in a true electronic moment, and experiencing the invisible symbols of sound.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END29 August 2019

Byron Metcalf/Mark Seelig: Persistet Visions

Persistent Visions

Persistent Visions

Byron Metcalf/Mark Seelig: Persistent Visions
Released: 15 March 2019
www.projekt.com

It would seem that anyone with a heartbeat could find something of themselves in Persistent Visions (71:03) by Byron Metcalf & Mark Seelig. In its news from the frontiers of consciousness we all should be able to find a pulse. Turning cerebral mechanisms Metcalf’s drumming patterns are accompanied by Seelig’s skyward flute tones. A sense of gradual momentum, neither outward nor inward, declares its primal quality. Rhythms and grooves trek through our psyche beneath silvery notes carrying the comfort of melody. Diffuse synthesizer harmonies sustain, and then draw us back to still subtle spaces. Each element combines to superb effect. Persistent Visions is not episodic, or circular, but somehow continually expanding, as it descends ever deeper into its listeners. The pace is methodical, the playing intuitive, and the music genuine. We are calmly led into a unique space, within which a musical vision is shared, and knowledge is whispered. The digital society de-emphasizes contemplation, and so it is difficult for modern musicians to develop habits of mind that do not feel half-machine themselves. But this duo was genuinely moved while playing their music, as will we be upon attending to it. Throughout Persistent Visions we feel Metcalf & Seelig always reaching for something – otherwise, why would we bother to follow them on this journey at all? In a constant flight forward, this duo plays whatever occurs to them, always advancing the threads of their story – with the narrative of their music broadening as far as our listening minds allow it.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END25 April 2019

Erik Wollo: Infinite Moments

Infinite Moments

Infinite Moments

Erik Wøllo: Infinite Moments
Released: 4 January 2019
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com

Often, music will reflect the state of the times in which it is being made. Fortunately for us, Erik Wøllo is making music not for our now, but for our future. The album Infinite Moments (57’32”) is a journey into Wøllo’s beliefs and perception of the world, and is powerful in ways that words cannot capture. Playing his electric guitar with an e-bow through a substantial amount of digital processing, he approaches these six sonic flights with a stable sense of serenity. In a masterful, tightly controlled performance his thick, spare, sometimes ominous approach conveys the joy of living, but also a few shades of solitude and isolation. Gone is the familiarity of the six-string tones. Bearing the drama of Wøllo’s slow melodies and embracing harmonies are his rounded, flexing sounds – which arrange themselves comfortably throughout the listening space. Breathing chords, friendly rather than foreboding, emerge, sustain and recede – drawn out in echoing waves of gentle tones. The explored realms pass between pastel cloud sunsets and the velvet cloak of night, to a place of private understandings. Charged with electrical nuance and the questioning nature of proper Ambient Music, Infinite Moments delivers the expected shivers. A completely meditative work, it is as if we are hearing the sound of the cosmos being filtered through 21st century technology. Wøllo observes the granular texture of reality, the severity of its miracles, and the range of its grace. For fans and novices of Spacemusic… Infinite Moments is a must.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 March 2019

Forrest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream

The Fata Morgana Dream

The Fata Morgana Dream

Forest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream
Released: 28 January 2019
www.projekt.com
www.forrestfang.com

Has a lost tribe ever been discovered that was actually lost? Forrest Fang might be from one such clan. His release The Fata Morgana Dream (66’50”) feels from out of some unexplored quarter – and so as fresh and unexpected as life itself. Convinced we are wandering through a stranger’s dream this work creates a swirling blend of the real and the mythic. Content as ever to revel in his own designs, Fang shifts the music between realms – insisting as always on the amazing complexity of the world. As usual, multiple influences have been woven together with extraordinary artistry. Providing a sense of place, in the most abstract of geographic terms, the eight tracks of this album are themselves fascinating journeys through uncharted territory – with Fang as our brilliant traveling companion. A pleasant escape, The Fata Morgana Dream tracks the mind as it moves through it. Beneath the permeating reverb of its sustaining atmosphere are granular textures. Saturating drones penetrate our listening space, as acoustic instruments are picked, plunked, strummed and struck – yielding a rhythm deeper than that of any digital native. Soundtracks of a secret zone, the compositions build out and shimmer like a mirage on the horizon. All are varied meditations on what it is to be one kind of human. A rare treasure of an album, The Fata Morgana Dream deepens the mystery of the individual experience. In a masterful, tightly controlled performance Fang decorates our condition with music. Originality is a rare commodity in art, and works by this musician sound like no one else’s. Forrest Fang, it is far too easy to admire you.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END21 February 2019

Steve Roach: Molecules of Motion

Molecules of Motion

Molecules of Motion

Steve Roach: Molecules of Motion
Released: 1 June 2018
www.projekt.com
www.steveroach.com

Those who have traveled the farthest have gained the most perspective. Steve Roach invites us to listen with him, granting us privileged access to a hopeful view. His work exerts a force on the imagination, and brings much news from a distant corner of life. The album Molecules of Motion (73’18”) feels new and electric. Excitingly alive, this CD finds its dramatic momentum and action situated in Roach’s sequencers. Focused with full-beam intensity he lends musical energy to the language of ideas. Like many armed sparks sequencers issue tones and tumbling grooves break out of the controlled voltages. In an appreciation of complexity wordless structures explore forces – as the circulating fractals of tone patterns embody greater themes: the speed of life passing, the burden of memory. In an apt blend of vigor and momentum we become bedazzled by the sound of echoing synthesized riffs running on beneath swirling textures of atmosphere. Molecules of Motion has its soft spots too. As Roach occasionally idles the engine, late scenes are filled with serene sonic beauty. This taming is a quieter action, a simpler transaction of sound. Falling into infinity, we are unable to name the upper realm. This release rewards the deep diver – as we find the undercurrent of each track includes a whispered confidence shared with every listener. In streaks, flares, and charges in the open air, each of the four tracks transport our thoughts through space and time – just as easily as they may guide our attention down to territory more microscopic. The imaginary soundworlds Roach creates have an entrancing effect – enfolding such optimism in an era of blank desolation. He never loses sight of the natural wonders he is trying to capture, or of the nebulous mysteries he is attempting to fathom. Molecules of Motion reaffirms our sonic joy as the sustaining life force that it is.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 June 2018

Erik Wollo: Threshold Point

Threshold Point

Threshold Point

Erik Wøllo: Threshold Point
Released: 27 April 2018
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com

The music of Erik Wøllo has more places to chill than an igloo. His album Threshold Point (60’37”) features nine tracks that run in cool, unpredictable swerves and drifts of conversation. Always meeting the harmonic demands of his audience, Wøllo clothes supple melodic lines in a blanket of synthesized consonance. Climbing gradually and gracefully to its highest point, then with dignity traveling home again, his guitar solos conjure places known to but a few contemporary musicians. While so many rows of notes dance in all the pleasant complexities of syncopation, echoing up and down their scales, we listeners may rest – contently attuned with this beauty. In building Threshold Point Wøllo used rhythm, tone and pitch as his raw material. Here, rhythm is an appeal to the feelings, rather than an exercise of mathematical faculty. Tone combined with mood delivers a distinctive atmosphere, and tuneful arrangements of pitch brings the listener to a point of emotion – which then (as an element in the structure of each piece) leads to a feeling for climax. We will find no formal border between Wøllo’s music and the mainstream, as his work resides safely at the northern fringes of this realm. Identified by its boreal cursive elegance, Threshold Point displays a level of inventiveness that most musicians have not yet reached. So much of modern music and art is meant to provoke – inciting us to apply meaning. Erik Wøllo does believe that the world needs more people thinking, learning, and thereby becoming better. But he knows that society grinds on us enough so why should his music? From the steady and true creative engine of this man we hear his art, and cannot help but feel his humanity.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 June 2018