Forrest Fang "The Sleepwalker's Ocean" 2xCD
"The Sleepwalker's Ocean" double album is the latest offering by Forrest Fang, a Chinese-American virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, who undoubtedly belongs to the most unique electro-acoustic innovators constantly perfuming his sonic sculptures with fascinatingly piquant and exquisitely filigreed Middle and Far East insignias and masterfully amalgamating them with Western-charged atmozones. His two previous albums "Animism" (June 2012) and "Letters To The Farthest Star" (March 2015) are perfect examples of such soundsculpting bravura, but these words can be easily applied to Forrest Fang's complete discography counting around 13 solo albums, one collaboration with Carl Weingarten and additional two recordings released under his Sans Serif moniker. "The Sleepwalker's Ocean" is out since January 2016 on Projekt in limited edition of 300 copies, packaged in a 4-panel eco wallet featuring stunningly gorgeous images by Kinga Britschgi, in Idaho based visual artist. Additional credits go to kindred Bay Area resident Robert Rich for his mastering wizardry, while Projekt's Sam Rosenthal is responsible for additional design work.
Utilizing not only traditional instruments like synths, violin or electric guitar, but also a line-up of richly fragranced instruments such as Marxolin (bowed psaltry), electric mandolin, saron (gamelan instrument), lavta (plucked string instrument) or càntaro (clay pot), this uniquely transporting journey unfolds with 8 and a half minutes long composition "Gone To Ground". A thrillingly exotic palette of magnificently weeping and mesmerically tinkling strings is precisely coalesced with soothingly embracing blankets hanging above. A truly nectarous listening experience, Forrest Fang is back at the very top of his extraordinary musicianship!!! "Message In The Sand", only at few seconds longer than its predecessor, moves through more enigmatic terrains at the beginning, but then the scenario is again stolen by euphoric rhythms, where glitteringly ear-tickling gamelan signatures meticulously commingle with delicately hypnotic tribal drumming. This aural splendor is permeated by Robert Rich's intangibly serpentine flute patterns. Another utterly immersing ride!!! Then follows the main theme, "The Sleepwalker's Ocean", which is divided into 6 parts and clocks over 33 minutes. The first "Cloudburst" glides into warmly expansive horizons counterpointed with glimpses of distant rumbles and delightfully airy gossamer clinks. "Bog" dives with its perplexingly serpentine drone alchemy deeply into intriguingly subterranean Eden. "Night Ferry" inconspicuously sneaks in, where emerging serenity soon transforms into spellbindingly shimmering vaporous ripples contrasted by titillating stringed meridians. "Geiger" spreads the wings and glides towards gracefully immense panoramas, persistently propelled by diaphanously pulsing subtleties, while clandestinely permeated by ethereal biotic traceries. What a beauty!!! "Lumin" is slightly lighter in its drifting intensity, yet still keeping safely on strikingly amorphous path. Shorter "Waywards", the last part of "The Sleepwalker's Ocean", reveals with lyrical piano with additional, lushly poetic embroideries, all guarded by balmily engrossing sheets reinforced here and there by calmly sinuating chiming ephemerons. 7-minute "Driftwood" is ignited by intensely expansive drones, which are instantly illuminated by subtle gamelan contemplations. "Not Forgotten" is driven by voluminously monochromatic stratum, imbued by shimmeringly tinkling undercurrents and masterfully reinforced by awe-inspiring panoptic magnitudes with stirringly mind-bending vertexes. An epic, 11 minutes long conclusion of the first disc, bravo, Forrest!!!
The second CD features "An Alternate Ocean (The Salton Sea)", a long-form piece clocking over 54 minutes. It emerges with gorgeously sonorous driftscape, gliding, rising and ebbing with multidimensional grandness through jaw-droppingly immense horizons. Monochromatic magmas, solitary organic glimpses, nebulously rumbling fragments, evanescing quietudes, intriguing transitions, surreptitious crescendos, ear-piercing climaxes, transcendental ecstasy..., it's an all-inclusive drone amalgamate at its most transporting and presenting Forrest Fang at the peak of his dronescaping trickeries!!! I won't hide it, this composition is certainly one of those phenomenally immersing, intensely enrapturing and mercurially chameleonic long-form zones. A true eargasm!!! Bravo, Maestro!!!
"The Sleepwalker's Ocean" double album meticulously showcases a gamut of distinguishably infused signatures of its sole protagonist, not only his infinite virtuosity in sculpting richly blossoming sonic perfumes, but also unlocking the gates to the deepest realms of enigmatically-driven droneforging. "The Sleepwalker's Ocean" is another tour de force recording by Forrest Fang and due to its ambitious magnitude, a truly triumphant accomplishment!!! So I am not surprised the 2CD is already sold out at Projekt's webstore, but I believe there still might be available some copies through other sources. And who knows, maybe Sam will consider in the future a possible re-print of this milestone. And by the way, Forrest Fang is now working on his newest album, so definitely stay tuned!!!
Richard Gürtler (Sep 11, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)
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