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

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dean de Benedictis - Salvaging the Past – De Benedictis, as the title points out, not only refers to the legacy, but even reinvents the past on this album. The stunning opener, “The Tech Atonement of Bilagana,” unearths a...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues