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Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Projekt Records

Forrest Fang: The Lost Seasons of Amorphia

The Lost Seasons of Amorphia

Forrest Fang: The Lost Seasons of Amorphia
Released: 4 November 2022
www.projekt.com

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

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Erik Wollo: Inversions

Inversions

Erik Wollo: Inversions
Released: 20 May 2022
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com

Characterized by its simplicity and clarity Inversions (30:46) feels true to life. Here Erik Wøllo has managed to record seven gentle, soul-strengthening pieces of a quality more profound and resonant than most artists working in a similar vein. Spontaneously conceived and executed by conducting the output of his electric guitar into digital devices and effects this kind of improvising requires just as much listening as it does playing. The impulsive quality also notes a disarming honesty – an unfiltered truth. It is with great care and taste that Wøllo casts his tender spell of beauty. In just the right mixture of the earthly and the celestial he provides promising moments of affecting sentiment – that taken together convey a singular message. In a tone florid and rounded Inversions confers an aura of perpetually becoming. This collection of spacey slow burners gains slight bursts of color as ideas flow melodiously, rising out of experimental inclinations. A misty melancholy permeates as Wøllo charts a descent into darkness, and back. Coarse then sweet, timbre, melody and harmony divide our attention. Here and there the fog lifts a little bit, and we find reeling stars and midnight things. In an orchestra of looping lines a mournful lead line flickers like a lonely candle in the wind of time. Then the embattled twilight succumbs to a re-invasion of shadows. Listening our way through to the back end of evening we will notice that this musical spellwork is driven less by technology than it is by yearning and resignation – the most remote of all circuitry. Throughout these minimal passages and entrancing transformations the slightest gesture becomes much more significant. By avoiding the long and formless Wøllo builds an enjoyable ambient charisma of minute detail. The sound surface changes from feathery to hard edged, evoking a landscape terrain as surely as it does the amorphous aether above it. For the duration of this release the tone is intimate, but then so is the scale – a rare and cherishable quality in Spacemusic. Inversions presents a beguiling sonic sense – so much so that we owe it proof that we will one day become as free and as open as it asks us to be.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 25 August 2022

Lorenzo Montana: Descent

Descent Lorenzo Montana

Lorenzo Montana: Descent
Released: 4 March 2022
www.projekt.com

On Descent (52:35), Lorenzo Monatana goes for a lasting wonderment. An absorbing release, those open to the seduction of Electronic drama will be greatly rewarded. A terrain of scenic contrasts always makes for more interesting travels. But on this Descent we may never make a landing, ideally spending the duration of this album traversing the depths of our own imagination. With some sounds submerged in shadow, while others are shining on the surface, slowly circling clouds of harmony produce a fascinating atmosphere. Enigmatic, but with an air of possibility, the mood and emotional momentum transform minute by minute in an ever-evolving manipulation of touch and tone. Where reverberant chords surrender to the horizon, glowing notes flex and fade among forgotten areas of the self. With subtle percussion riffs materializing on his evocative synthesizer textures, Montana produces passages of mystic intrigue. In devouring durations of dusk, the eight tracks advance under their own pulse. Using long building sonic structures and negative space to delineate form, it is possible to find grace somewhere in the minimal twilight of this beautiful work. Descent gradually alternates between the dark and intense, and the dense and untrodden, but also inside the gentle and delicate – which acts to open a space where we may submit to the innermost exploration.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END3 March 2022

Forrest Fang: Forever Cascades

Forever CascadesForrest Fang

Forrest Fang: Forever Cascades
Released: 10 December 2021
www.projekt.com
www.forrestfang.com

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

Serena Gabriel (feat. Steve Roach): Seeing Inside

Seeing InsideSerena Gabriel

Serena Gabriel (feat. Steve Roach): Seeing Inside
Released: 22 October 2021
www.steveroach.com
www.projekt.com

Exploring relationships between the electronic and the acoustic, Serena Gabriel works again with producer and collaborator Steve Roach on Seeing Inside (72:12), their creation of atmosphere and constant sonic motion. In rolling synthetic waves and tender ethereal textures they conjure a beautiful inward space. Softer sounds prevail, as emanations of world instruments, vocals and keyboards are pushed into ever more thoughtful realms. With its slow procession of rising and receding tones, mingling with a most ethereal voice, Seeing Inside seems more a ceremony of sacred sounds than a conventionally composed body of music. From the deliberate pacing, and a sense of consonance over the churning electronic wash, to the issue of warm rounded timbres, these distinct characteristics resolve into an experience so captivating. Classic synthesizer sounds are layered among swelling drones and shimmering accents. In a swirling mist of ever-changing tonality, we progress from areas of darkness to light. These reflective zones are meant to provide a state within which secret webs of knowledge may be revealed. Yet, in moving from one mood to the next, Seeing Inside never loses its sense of direction. In her vocalize style of wordless, emotionally charged expressions Gabriel directs listeners through idyllic nocturnes and compassionate laments. Her voice soars fluently above haunting synth arrangements and rumbling bass notes. Moving effortlessly across registers, she glides from exaltation to soft benediction, and on to that of something seemingly beyond human extent. Swirling amidst sources such as harmonium, lyre, wooden flutes, frame drum, and the earth tones of the didgeridoo, Seeing Inside unifies in a distinct condition best attended to with eyes closed. In such a state the transportive qualities of this work may be fully felt – and its truth heard.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END11 November 2021

Erik Wollo: Winter Tide

Winter TideErik Wollo

Erik Wollo: Winter Tide/Live at Soundquest Fest 2021
Released: 20 July 2021
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com

How many ways are there to be human? By seeking transcendence in the crucible of the concert Erik Wollo validates his existence in the showcase of live performance. With Winter Tide (60:14) he adds another enduring work to his discography – this one realized for SoundQuest Fest 2021. Released during a summer when thinking feels like a big ask, this eight part suite unfolds in slow, cooling sighs of sparkling synthetic sounds. As soaring guitar-driven anthems head for the sky, this album’s confident melodies hold fast to the heart. Sending his instrument through a labyrinth of digital processing Wollo’s playing yields a rich and varied palette of textures and tones. Alongside silvery lead lines he deploys chords of steel strings – which ride atop rising rhythms of electronic precision. The overflow of magical musical moments impacts us at a level deeper than that of words. Arresting, absorbing and rewarding, Winter Tide freezes time by inundating the mind with thought. Searching and contemplative, then striding into the deep, it achieves a satisfying, constant level of high thinking. The bright spots are incandescent, and we are moved by the concord of sweet sounds – only to sink into icy waters, where the turbulence really attracts the ears. The recital setting allowed room for risk. In this familiar space Wollo discovers a potent sense of drama – heard in the unique energy exuded throughout each track. Subtle in all the right ways Winter Tide was made for a particular kind of listener – determined to collect unique feelings and enjoy each span of sonic goodness while it lasts. Finding our way into this music is a familiar adventure – one where we learn the secrets that we knew all along.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END22 July 2021

Erik Wollo: North Star

North StarErik Wollo 2021

Erik Wollo: North Star
Released: 18 June 2021
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com

Fans of Erik Wollo find his music so engaging that the act of listening leaves them little time for anything else. Leading us through the psyche of the artist his albums portray places not know until we reach them. A marvel in its structure, execution and heart North Star (51:09) reminds us of the power of music, the rigor of musicianship, the joy of creativity, and the realization of potential. Where the output of his contemporaries may unnerve, Wollo reassures. Exciting to behold North Star‘s eight tracks each have the distinct sensation of encountering a miraculous mind. As we step from our familiar moment into an alternative realm of swimming sonics and cerebral energy, listeners are transported deep into a world that we are eager to grasp. Exploring the potential of sending his guitar through an endless array of digital processors Wollo designs a rich and varied aural palette. The playing builds slowly, then proceeds in a measured surge of plucked steel strings, breathing chords and sustaining E-bow notes – all surrounded by a luxuriant atmosphere of harmony and texture. Submitting to this dreamy quality we find that each note seems to carry its own message. A new pleasure born every moment, themes linger just long enough to stir the memory. In profound moments of contemplation unnamable tones mingle with undulating drones. Elsewhere, forward motion is attained in North Star’s pulsing synthetic percussion and snaking electric guitar leads. Ghostly assemblages of drifting electronics merge to form bright major chords or mysteriously minor ones. As the soundscape darkens, dulcet melodies glide gracefully above waiting fading forms – stilled in the long cold between stars. Some pieces are of a scale that asks listeners to become lost in their dimensions, yet further in an intimate ballad offers familiar moments of stillness and repose – akin to one of life’s small redemptive mercies. As stargazers study The Universe, musicians ponder the mind, and what to fill it with. Listening to this work beneath the dark arch of the night sky we may imagine escaping the limitations of the Earthly plane. Throughout North Star Erik Wollo’s nuanced gestures are fully readable, and the music is exactly what it wants to be. Looking toward the stars, Wollo’s music heads straight for the heart – so that we may awaken to what is inside.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END17 June 2021

Steve Roach: Tomorrow

Tomorrow Steve Roach

Steve Roach: Tomorrow
Released: 23 October 2020
www.steveroach.com
www.projekt.com
www.behindtheskymusic.com

All through Tomorrow (73:59) Steve Roach exhibits a continuing fascination with the sequential controller – the essential device used to explore his reiterating, pulse-based, minimalist music. Aligning this technology to his creative vision Roach’s expansive work irradiates rather than occupies space. Across Tomorrow‘s five tracks synth voices intertwine in arrangements of gentle gravity, and take shape in portentous contrasts. Echoing and recoiling through the sound space lines of notes interweave in machine precision, as spiraling electric glides and cycling patterns blend perfectly beneath vivid atmospheres. Progressing beyond the aforementioned stretches of luxurious chords and spacey, shimmering accents the listener encounters tranquil zones for drifting and thinking. While we might not give a thought to the hidden cognitions that made these sections possible, the craft and artistry found on Tomorrow does indeed show a firm grasp of tonal organization and musical structure. Its recurring motives and expressive shades of sound gain a magical release for our thoughts – as disused channels of the mental faculty are gradually opened and lit up. When this kind of innovative expression first came into being, its first few listeners described hearing the future. Not the music that would be popular in fifty years, but a sound from somewhere other than the known past, or the fleeting present. It was of a time unknown to us, of somewhere else, of an age yet to come – it was of the nearest possible Tomorrow.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END28 January 2021

Forrest Fang: The Book of Wanderers

The Book of WanderersForrest Fang: The Book of Wanderers
Released: 4 September 2020
www.projekt.com
www.forrestfang.com

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

Erik Wøllo & Michael Stearns: Convergence

ConvergenceErik Wøllo & Michael Stearns: Convergence
Released: 28 August 2020
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com
www.michaelstearns.com

Spacemusic is equally complex at all scales. The majestic arrangement of sounds, notes and forms, even the silences become evident only when the music is surveyed over its largest extent. Yet, on a smaller scale the tones and timbres also impress – as it is through the manipulation of this sonic material that this genre enables its practitioners to make their most profound expressions. The music of Erik Wøllo & Michael Stearns flows across spatial scales. As might be expected from these notable names, their collaboration Convergence is a harmonic match for all the enigmas of the Universe. Playing beyond you the listener, beyond now, this duo freely roams through the colorful depths of their imaginations. Achieving a beautiful dramatic cohesion Convergence shows how firmly each musician has grown into his own identity – which has been admirably interweaved into each composition. This album comes at us with the force and sophistication of high art, provoking questions, yet still works to shore up the spirit. Chords shift surely, gradually craving that which is just out of reach. Charmed melodies and delicate choirs signal vastness, as limber, lucid leads exalt through incandescent voices and strings. Between Stearns’ high-sheen synth-craft and Wøllo’s striking guitar artistry their ten well-honed tracks aim for smart production and continuity, for a sound that feels effortlessly theirs. Profoundly otherworldly, but always reassuringly human, Convergence occasionally gestures at the New Age, but then quickly reasserts the dreamy brilliance of its cosmic music credentials. Traversing a wider spectrum of emotions than is typically covered by the more technology-minded acts, Wøllo & Stearns present their atmospheric constructs in swaths of electronics and floating mists of harmony – in hopes of enlivening the awesome potential of the individual mind-space. By bringing something of their cosmos into our listening area, we may feel their message, and some measure of peace.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 August 2020