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Forrest Fang — Letters to the Farthest Star
(Projekt 312, 2015, CD)
Despite the title, this is a very earthbound collection. Hearts of Space devotees may already be acquainted with Berkeley-based musician Forrest Fang’s East-meets-West instrumental soundscapes, but many of these tracks are accessible enough to pull in all kinds of listeners. Letters to the Farthest Star is a hefty offering pushing 70 minutes (or more if you include the bonus tracks) that does way more than merely provide a backdrop to meditation. The opening four-part suite, “The Unreachable Lands,” delivers hummable melodies, bubbly rhythms, and rich textures that recall mainstream artists like Peter Gabriel. Like all electro-ambient artists, Fang employs an impressive arsenal of keyboards to create the lush settings that inhabit his music, although it’s the other instruments in his studio — including Japanese harp, gamelan, and Turkish lutes — that characterize his unique sound. Pieces like “Veldt Hypnosis” become pagoda-like edifices of noisy percussion built upon dense atmospheric foundations. It can all get a bit suffocating, but that’s also part of what sets Fang apart from more his more minimalist peers. His background as a violin player serves him well on the elegant “Seven Coronas,” and while he’s probably not a master, he’s more than capable on the Chinese zithers, hand drums, and myriad other instruments heard on these 13 tracks. Through it all there’s a sense of something ancient and mysterious, yet elegant and beautiful at the same time. As the last notes wafted into the ether I found myself reaching for the replay button more than once.
by Paul Hightower, Published 2019-01-04
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-03-16
Related artist(s): Forrest Fang
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