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

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Kit Watkins - Beauty Drifting – Belying its apparent simplicity, this latest album from Kit — basically a piano album with some supporting synth work, recalls the ethereal spirit and moodiness of his classic Azure. The key to the...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues