On his ninth album, Animism, Chinese-American musician Forrest Fang creates a diverse musical style that fuses timeless Fourth World acoustic instruments with a modern fractal ambient sound. Inspired by the ancient belief that all living and inanimate forms possess a spirit or life force, Fang has composed eight pieces that radiate with energy and warmth.
- Tailing Wind [6:49]
- The Chameleon's Paintbox [6:20]
- Islands In The Sky [8:55]
- Evening Chorus [5:21]
- Passing Suns [7:40]
- A Tributary Unwinds [8:15]
- Sleeping Snakes [7:12]
- Resting Point [9:40]
Fang has been making music since the ‘80s when he was part of the DIY ethos of the underground cassette culture scene. In the ‘90s, he emerged on the electronic music scene with an unique and eclectic Pan-Asian blend of exotic instruments and modern ambience. Over his previous three Projekt releases spanning the last decade, he has created hypnotic pieces featuring layers of primarily electronic sound.
Fang says, “I love hearing music that harmonizes influences from diverse sources. I feel I’ve come very close to achieving that with this release. I’ve been searching for a free-flowing sound that blends my interests in deep, layered ambient music, minimalist music, and non-Western folk and classical traditions. I try to find a common thread in these traditions as if they were part of a new hybrid style.”
"Fang has come up with a compelling Asian new-music sensibility all his own. He's a multiculturalist's dream: blending heterogeneous sources into rich, overpowering sonorities, with rhythmic ostinatos that won't let you sit still. There's too much rigor, austerity, and rumbling electronic discord for the music to ever lapse into New Age." -VILLAGE VOICE
Besides acoustic and electric violins and mandolins, he embellishes his atmospheric textures with melodies and polyrhthms from stringed and percussion instruments such as the Turkish lavta, Peruvian bandurria, Filipino kulintang, Mexican cantaro and Balinese kendang.
The album starts off with a bang as "Tailing Wind" dissolves into a kaleidoscope of textures and a dialogue among primal drums, gongs and processed strings. The mood momentarily lightens as "The Chameleon's Paintbox" combines the lyricism of the lavta (a Turkish lute) with hypnotic minimalism from piano, strings and evolving harmonics. With "Islands In the Sky," hand drums and other textural percussion, along with double tracked violins and electric mandolin, support a bed of tropical ambient atmospheres. A more primeval mood prevails in "A Tributary Unwinds," in which dan bau (a one-stringed Vietnamese instrument), Tibetan bells, cantaro, hand percussion, violin and cane flutes weave in and out of a subtle stream of tones and textures. Several ambient pieces round out the album, closing with "Resting Point," a meditative environmental piece complemented by the elongated tones of the Marxolin, a Depression-era zither.
Animism is a celebration of life's internal rhythms and their ultimate path to rest.
2012. Press Information
Somber resonant chords fall with a dramatic heaviness, raising a delicate whirlwind of tinkled chords which makes "Tailing Wind" to spin between the ambiences of a pastoral ode and a an oniric tribal rhythm. This heavy and slow clanic rhythm turns in some fine musical corridors where hypnotic tom-toms, diverse ringings and absent choirs lose their musicality in a dense thick cloud of chords from string instruments, shaping this fascinating spiritual trance which quivers to the measure of our obedience. Lugging around its 8 titles which compose “Animism” between delicate tribal rhythms inspired by the Middle East and ambiences both spectral and angelic, Forrest Fang invites his listener in a fascinating musical journey built around a surprising panoply of acoustic instruments.
"The Chameleon's Paintbox" is a good example of this duality between the mysticism of the tribal trances and the passion of the spiritual hymns with its violent notes of guitar which bite a contemplative structure from which the musicality is filled by an avalanche of strings’ notes which dance on the winds of fine and discreet lines of a synth which, between its harmonies, frees a seraphic choir. The intro of "Islands in the Sky" tears the sky with its breaths of emerald which activate some Tibetan bells. One would believe to be straight into the relaxation exercises ordered by Ray Lynch and his soft Deep Breakfast. A fine rhythm is outlined, making move the percussions which whisper on the waves of synth fading away wave by wave to embrace a more lively rhythm. The rhythm is livened up by manual percussions which beat under the shrill tears of a violin before merging into an attractive clanic folk song, hugged by layers of a more redeeming synth. It’s a very beautiful title. "Evening Chorus", which nicely wears its naming, brings us towards the ambient borders of Forrest Fang's 13th album with synth strata chanting with fine bells. Although ambient, "Evening Chorus" is eaten away by a surprising passion and an intense emotionalism; two keywords that encircle pretty well the universe of “Animism”.
Afterward the multi-instrumentalist American of a Chinese origin moves its intra-personal vibrations with a stunning worship for Eolus and its whims. “Animism” deflects towards a torrent of winds which will blow with strength and/or passion until the dawns of "Resting Point"."Passing Suns" begins with a slow waltz of drones. These drones are warm and suave. They moderate little by little, letting filter more bright lines under the shape of fine striation of synth which cry and glide over an earth of sorrow. But the anger of these synth winds, as well as violins’, is not satisfied yet. These winds of silver are blowing with such a fury on "A Tributary Unwinds" that they mask the tranquility of the aboriginal tom-toms which try to delude the ferocity with it. The percussions bursts which are scattered by the winds bring us in the feudal universe of Steve Roach. Dense gusts of deserts pursue their merciless road of natural predators on "Sleeping Snakes" and its bells which ring blindly in this ambient universe sat on storms of clays. These ringing resist to the strength of winds to trumpet a soft tinkled serenade which spreads its charm until the finale of "Sleeping Snakes", before that dark and floating winds win back their rights on "Resting Point" to conclude an album to the colors of a melancholy divided between its tribal souvenirs and its ancestral regrets.
2012. Sylvain Lupari / gutsofdarkness.com & synth&sequences.com
The brand new work "Animism" by the Chinese-American ambient exotica virtuoso Forrest Fang is ready to hit the streets during the June 2012. After checking the credits on elegant eco CD wallet packaging, everything is more than clear, Forrest Fang is again unveiling all the secrets of his acoustic wizardry by utilizing except violins and mandolins many exotic instruments, mostly originated from Mediterranean region (Baglama and Lavta, both stringed instruments), Southeast Asia (Kulintang - a set of horizontally laid gongs, Dan Bau - a monochord, one-string instrument with a rod, serving as a resonator), South America (Bandurria - a stringed instrument, similar to the cittern or mandolin) or North America (Marxolin - a bowed instrument). A long multi-cultural variety of instruments I must say, among them some that I most likely didn't hear before.
"Tailing Wind" hits straightly this fascinating route with its intense, nearly eclectic blend of strings, percussions and gongs, that should be above mentioned Kulintang. This opening composition attracts with strongly primordial feel. Darker dronescapes of "The Chameleon's Paintbox" are soon joined by enchantingly expessive palette of euphoric strings. And even if some delicate Western-infused elements join the stage, just close your eyes and you are immediately transported by this ultimate masterpiece into absolutely exciting places, where all the fragrances and glamor of wonderful Middle East palaces can be explored. Magnificently colorful and beautiful piece, Forrest!!! Sorrowful strings with gongs lead "Islands In The Sky" into deeply meditative realms, which are later shifting into chillout phase before journeying into adventurously magical and filigree fusion of finest Asian and Western musical ingredients. Organic groovy exotica at its most alluring!!! We are encountering a richly sculpted, intriguingly fragranced and skillfully balanced mixture of atmospheric or medit ative soundscaping with Forrest's Chinese heritage and Fourth World musical traditions. The next two compositions, "Evening Chorus" and "Passing Suns" sedate with heavenly floating washes, a purely aural bliss is awaiting for everyone!!! "A Tributary Unwinds" is colored with deeper drones and cavernous distruptions at the beginning, but soon the tribal drumming and string magic steal the show. A performance holding the signature that is only Forrest Fang!!! The interaction of all acoustics and electronics is just amazing in this composition, to my ears, certainly an Ambient Hall Of Fame virtuosity!!! "Sleeping Snakes" are joined by heavier and intense spiraling drone sounds enriched by fragilely tinkling bells. The closing piece, "Resting Point", precisely displays its title with serenely wandering drifts presenting Forrest Fang at his most tranquil craft!!!
Not to forget, having Robert Rich behind the mastering desk is another bonus. "Animism" is the next benchmark release of Forrest Fang and one of the undisputable highlights of 2012 so far!!! Thank you so much, Forrest, for inviting me to experience spectacular adventures and breathtaking sceneries of all these extraordinary territories, you are a true sonic innovator!!!
2012. Richard Gürtler / Bratislava, Slovakia