Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Forrest Fang

Forrest Fang: The Lost Seasons of Amorphia

The Lost Seasons of Amorphia

Forrest Fang: The Lost Seasons of Amorphia
Released: 4 November 2022

Forrest Fang treats the mind as an area of activation – a dense meaning-space where each of us experiences subjective reality. Exceptionally rendered, his The Lost Seasons of Amorphia (68:48) offers an encounter with some superior realm of the psyche. Intricately balanced, invariably surprising, in a density of detail Fang plays the music of the world he knows. From lulling dreamscapes and somnambulant bliss to the vigorous whorl of sharply conceived moments his studio and its implements provide plenty of room for inventiveness. Each of the seven tracks seem like a drama unto itself. In an abundance of color and presence the sounds and notes tell us something about the space they are resounding through. Sensuously swollen shapes recede into a soft-focus mood under points of starlight clustering in vastness. Measured and finely modulated, scene after scene are calculated to colonize the listening mind. Some will hear melodies in the dancing, pulsing rhythms – as seductive percussion runs shift the shape of the palpitating drive – while others will be more attracted to the explorations of fabric and form, structure and tonality, timbre and pacing. In a unique intermingling of acoustic instruments and those more overtly electronic, patterned compositions float along an arc of lustrous synth tones and gently resounding gu-zheng, gongs and gamelan. Pushing through a dreamy, verdant realm we recognize this album’s sheen, unanimity and teeming complexities. So where does this music really come from? Is it from a region to our North, South, East or West? Is it from another world? …or from the future? The Lost Seasons of Amorphia is alternately dark and intense, dense and impenetrable, gentle and delicate, and ultimately conjures an atmosphere under which the truth of the composer is briefly known – as Forrest Fang continues to beautifully reveal himself to us one album at a time.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 November 2022


Forrest Fang: Forever Cascades

Forever CascadesForrest Fang

Forrest Fang: Forever Cascades
Released: 10 December 2021

The music of Forrest Fang refuses summation and invites contemplation. No one possesses or inhabits sound the way as this man does. A product of thinking in pure meanings his Forever Cascades (67:12) stimulates a category of thought that occurs without words, images or symbols of any kind – and yet can converse perfectly with the inner workings of every listener. Fang the multi-instrumentalist has here produced ten tracks that imagine a realm just beyond that of the everyday. These detailed aural surroundings are rousing to the informed, and inviting to the uninitiated. Yet, we should give up on finding ourselves represented anywhere in the complexity of this music, and rather just focus on how it makes us feel. As diverse as all the tones, textures, atmospheres and energy settings are, it should be obvious that these ten compositions, while all on different routes, are headed for the same destination. Where one composition moves like a swift silvery ghost, the next will be as still as a whisper. Passing through subdued tones the expressive arc of Forever Cascades rises to a brighter register, or just as easily it may roll over us like a storm. Continually awakening, absorbing and moving inward, this album also lights out in expressive fanciful flights. Whether pushing the outer boundaries of Ambient Music, or summoning a lost world of the New Age, this work excites the ears as much as it mends the mind. If the art of music is about transporting the audience, then Forrest Fang is an unrivaled guide. His talents elevate Forever Cascades to a level distinctly above common Contemporary Instrumental Music – as its humbling force aspires to transform the distances between people into an intimacy with the whole world.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END23 December 2021

Forrest Fang: The Book of Wanderers

The Book of WanderersForrest Fang: The Book of Wanderers
Released: 4 September 2020

Albums by Forrest Fang are for that rare breed of listener who, upon each outing, wishes to travel someplace new. In this and every way The Book of Wanderers (71’20”) is a great success, as each of its ten tracks takes us somewhere we did not know we wanted to go. Using an impressive range of percussive and stringed sounds, electronic tones and synthesized sighs to evoke the metaphysical dimensions within the player, he plays brisk and brilliant, then slow and steady – conjuring an inclusive space-laced, ethereal doorway into mind and mood. Forrest Fang has appeared on several works by Robert Rich, who returns the favor here by offering beautiful flute soloing throughout “Tale of the Egret”. Both are skillful musicians who can play for night owls as well as they can for morning larks, and know how to keep a musical story moving. Yet it is the soft harmonic auras and hovering melodies they realize which cling to the ears and whisper in the heart. As primitive states grow more organized we find certain arrangements on The Book of Wanderers rendered with a warm appreciation for their complexity. Further in we find Fang’s futuristic fusion sound combining features of world ethnic instruments with advanced Ambient Music techniques. Its pieces which are defined by subtle gradations of light and shadow are paralleled by compositions of hard line, high finish, and tight precision – works that bring back stardust, then resolve into the quiet grandeur of shores closer to home. Some evoke a feeling of melancholy, while further in muted palettes and a gauzy veil of atmosphere provide a poignant sense of repose. In our world where everything is known the music produced by Forrest Fang remains a mystery. A man of our time, or maybe somewhat ahead of it, he is in close touch with his imagination. This remarkable and evolving contemplation is an enterprise that is for all of us – as we struggle with a vague vision of a unified world.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 September 2020

Forrest Fang: Ancient Machines

Ancient Machines

Ancient Machines

Forrest Fang: Ancient Machines
Released: 2 December 2019

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

Forrest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream

The Fata Morgana Dream

The Fata Morgana Dream

Forest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream
Released: 28 January 2019

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

Forrest Fang: Scenes From a Ghost Train

Scenes From A Ghost Train

Scenes From A Ghost Train

Forrest Fang: Scenes From a Ghost Train
Released: 30 January 2018

If what you are witnessing in the waking world leaves something to be desired, then why not leave for a while to visit with innovative musician Forrest Fang? His album Scenes From a Ghost Train (69’16”) moves our minds as well as it caresses our ears. Entering a higher sanctuary, an enchanting subtlety carries us into idyll. The vast designs found within Scenes From a Ghost Train imagine a realm where both forces of dark and light exist equally. In an awesome quiet of soothing sounds, trembling tones whisper in the dim hue of a minor key. Plunging into languorous chords, Fang carefully resolves their further course. As the late rush of rhythm breaks out we feel a strange power of motion. A primal force, tumbling in headlong descent, the sounds of percussion measure the expanse – and access the pulse living within us all. Becoming lost in the clouds, or bathed in moonlight, synthesized notes slowly progress – around and through those of acoustic origin. Then, with the onset of an ominous dirge, chilling shadows return. Wherever harmony seeks a lower foundation, a subtle, insinuating dissonance sets in. As a mystic air rises slowly in hollow intervals, within the theatre of the mind chronology becomes hazy. Again locating our place, piano notes resound through cavernous reverberation, only to be consumed by dense metallic clouds. A significant attribute of Fang’s music may be found in its combination and resolution of integral themes. So constant is the derivation of ideas on Scenes From a Ghost Train that we must imagine them all to be related. This master should feel the full worth of what has been achieved. The ultimate goal of the endeavor is not the strikingly new, but rather the eternally true… a musician’s journey that may help you to understand your own.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END15 March 2018

Forrest Fang: Following the Ether Sun

Following the Ether Sun

Following the Ether Sun

Forrest Fang: Following the Ether Sun
Released: 17 February 2017

Forrest Fang designs music to keep us thinking even while chilling. It seems as though the setting for his work is always some far off exotic land – where miniature worlds are built out of sound, texture and atmosphere. Alive to the possibilities and power of these realizations, Following the Ether Sun (72’54”) is a homage to the pleasure of making things by hand, and another chapter in the story of Forrest Fang finding his way to the people who understand him. These eight sonic tales do not unspool into the world, as much as they permeate the sound space. Quiet chamber pieces present an enchanting sonic charisma, while in more ethereal sections dense waves of synthesized sounds pervade in expanding vulnerable forms. Within extreme digital processing of certain sound elements the various components of a piece join together, as progressive music, minimalism, ethnic, folk and classical influences play their part in the resulting electronic/acoustic hybrid. Always a vivid global explorer, Fang builds remarkable rhythms with an ensemble of acoustic instruments – in support of rarefied electronic harmonies that pass over the vivid, earthen landscape like frosted clouds above. Following the Ether Sun will cultivate inner thought processes, including daydreaming and imagination. Stretching mainly across the brain’s mid-section; it is a compelling example of how neural networks interact during the creative process, and also while listening dutifully. Though it is a mystery as to how this album achieves its resonant effect, we find that by these mysterious means we are transformed throughout its journey. Forrest Fang remains a unique voice in modern music – which needs intelligent artists to seduce us into the genre. In his chosen sonic realm, a hazy place of echoes and hollows, of unreal tones and ghost instruments, he captures, then transforms all the contradictions into something wondrous. This music invites the listener into a unique space, and requires us to have our own experience, repaying the effort ten fold.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END22 June 2017

Forrest Fang: The Sleepwalker’s Ocean

The Sleepwalker's Ocean

The Sleepwalker’s Ocean

Forrest Fang: The Sleepwalker’s Ocean
Released: 1 January 2016

Few musicians reach as high as Forrest Fang does. Our restless traveler presents the double CD The Sleepwalker’s Ocean – his exercise in imaginative and formal invention. Fang’s charismatic musical vision is arrived at through the accumulation of experiences and encounters with an intriguing range of acoustic and electronic instruments. The Sleepwalker’s Ocean portrays the unifying effect of these multiple influences. An intriguing sonic palette helps make it as stimulating to the ear as it is to the mind. Each track uniquely glows with a self-generated light, and easily activates our mental mechanics. The audible carrier of contemplative messages, this compositional style originates from a more intuitive and personal process. As time withdraws the music unfurls like a gorgeous dream. Fang’s impressionistic work is multi-layered, beautiful and serene, and encourages non-conscious thought. Alternately, the power pieces rouse the listener into Fang’s own dream of percussion and patterns – as he plays to the front edge of the listener’s senses. Beyond these sections our sense of time seems to stretch. Beneath cavernous reverberations, ghostly traces of sound writhe in shadowland interludes. The second disc in this set presents a work composed in an expanded minimalistic style. The continuously lulling long-form piece gently drifts through more Ambient realms. This quieter, sustaining experiment takes its time developing its idea, an interesting contrast to disc one’s title track – which creates something greater than the sum of its six connected tracks. The effect is impressive. In a great structure of thought Forrest Fang has conjured an idealized world of sound where Spacemusic, World Music, New Age and the Avant-Garde all share a common spirit, and sound connects everything.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 May 2016