Exposé Online banner

Forrest Fang — The Sleepwalker's Ocean
(Projekt 322, 2016, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-02-13

The Sleepwalker's Ocean Cover art

Seems like just yesterday I was listening to, and writing a review of, Forrest Fang’s previous release, Letters from the Farthest Star. Not complaining at all, I enjoy his music and every new release has something new and engaging for the listener, somewhere he hasn’t been before. Unlike so many ambient artists whose stock in trade revolves around synthesizers and electronically treated guitars (and no less to them, every artist uses whatever tools are available and those that are most comfortable to them), Fang’s works employ an array of both electronic and acoustic instrumentation, and such has been the case going back to near the beginning. Here, keyboards and synthesizers mix it up with electric mandolin and guitars, lavta (Turkish lute), violin, flutes, Mexican clay pot (Cantaro), Javanese gamelan, miscellaneous mysterious percussive sounds, sampled voices, and the obscure Marxolin (a 16-string bowed instrument with strings of varying length, perhaps a distant cousin of the autoharp). The opening track on disc one, “Gone to Ground,” sets the scene over the course of around eight minutes, but it’s the second cut, “Message to the Sand,” that introduces many of the acoustic instruments, flutes (by special guest Robert Rich) and gamelan sounds, many heavily processed providing an evaporative wall of sound effect, over which the more defined instrumentation paints rhythms and coloration, all swimming in a vast and mysterious ocean. Often Fang’s music finds a melodic phrase or sonic event that lends itself to repetition, and that brings us to the six-part 33+ minute title track, which evolves over six distinct parts. Each section introduces an idea that comes forth amid a muted dreamlike fantasia, morphing slowly as it moves forward, crossing through a portal into the next section; it’s a piece that the listener can truly get lost within. The “Night Ferry” section in particular is a vivid and haunting melodic dreamlike sequence that moves forward slowly against a muted twilight backdrop. “Waywards,” the title track’s final section, with its criss-crossing melodic patterns, hints of the minimalist composers who are no doubt a big influence on much of Fang’s body of work. "Driftwood” blossoms forward with mysterious muted percussives overlaid on a wash of organically processed acoustic sounds, while “Not Forgotten” closes the first disc with what seem to be the sounds of Tibetan bowls, gongs, and bells, disguised deeply within a cloak of mystery.

Disc two presents a single long-form 54-minute piece titled “An Alternate Ocean (The Salton Sea),” a highly introspective slower-morphing companion to the work found in the title track and other parts of disc one; it breathes and ebbs with vast celestial significance, marked by slow motion on a vast cosmic scale. An alternate ocean indeed. The effect of the two discs together represent a powerful force that moves the listener gently into subconscious realms.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Forrest Fang, Robert Rich

More info
http://projektrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-sleepwalker-s-ocean

Latest news

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tim Bowness / Samuel Smiles - World of Bright Futures – Vocalist Tim Bowness (of No-Man) formed Samuel Smiles back in the early 1990s with Michael Bearpark (guitar, programming) as an exercise in “ambient folk” music. For this, their first...  (2000) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues