Forrest Fang — Letters to the Farthest Star
(Projekt 312, 2015, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-03-16Since the early 80s, Forrest Fang has been creating his own special brand of music that draws instrumentation from around the world to create something unique, different, and pan-cultural – a sound that doesn’t necessarily owe anything to the cultures from which the instruments are drawn, but is reminiscent of them nonetheless. How can that not happen? One hears a guzheng (Chinese zither), for example, and the listener will immediately recall soundtracks from television and films where similar instruments were used, and thus the images form. This is the magical soundworld that Forrest Fang calls home, a place where moods and expression seize fragments of shadow and light, mixing these together with a veritable smorgasbord of world instrumentation which includes synthesizers, electronics, bandurria, mandolin, violin, lauta, hichiriki, cumbus, baglama, Indonesian kendang and saron, Japanese palm harp, and much more, mostly drawn from eastern and western Asian cultures. Mixed in with these are the ambient sounds created using electronics and studio processing; the result is a powerful and potent cinematic mix of sounds that draws the mind from place to place, outward and inward as well. Fang plays all these instruments himself, with a little help from Jeff Pearce on electric guitar. Counting his Invisibility collaboration with Carl Weingarten, this is Fang’s twelfth album, and in fact reflections of all those albums can be heard in this latest work, which starts with the side-long suite “The Unreachable Lands,” followed by six more pieces of varying lengths, each conveying a different feeling, capping off with the ten-minute “Lines to Infinity,” a potent mix of processed electric mandolin integrated with studio delay effects. Intense, spirited, and expansive, this is music like nobody else can make.
Related artist(s): Forrest Fang
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