Forrest Fang, Animism

Consider the wild tangle of sound that builds up at the start of “Tailing Wind,” the first track on Forrest Fang’s new release, Animism,  the orchestra warming up. Here, in one increasingly complex mass, you hear a wide variety of the sounds and instruments Fang is bringing into play. It’s a rich rainstorm of tones and timbres and feelings that Fang drenches you with before proceeding to pull out an energetic melodic line played on the kulintang, an array of  small gongs struck with mallets, playing across a synth-wash backdrop. Thus, Animism gets underway, coasting and soaring on Fang’s mix of electronic foundations and earthy, acoustic instruments. Rich strings sounds form the basis of many of the tracks on Animism; Fang’s arsenal is globally sourced–bandurria, marxolin, baglama, and đàn bầu, along with their less exotic cousins, violin and mandolin. Between strumming, plucking and bowing, their pure organic feel and rhythms breathe life and vibrancy into Fang’s tracks. In “The Chameleon’s Paintbox,” all those modes of playing fall together and layer into a mesmerizing strata. It opens with a plucked melody–given its swarthy Eastern flair, I would guess it is the Turkish lavda–abetted by the singing notes of bowed strings. Other instruments step briefly out from the chorus, then rejoin the swirl of collective sound. Animism carries a very strong narrative feel as Fang spins out his scenes. “A Tributary Unwinds” begins in a dusky, dense place where careful clatters of percussion and vocal groans peek out from behind the trees; a violin, clear and high describes the course of the water. Fang modulates the pace beautifully as the voyage continues, hitting meaningful pauses that elevate the sense of story and movement. There are also deep ambient drifts on Animism. Long synth pads create the relaxed sigh of “Evening Chorus” as gentle, gong-like sounds resonate in the background. This track has a calm warmth and fading sense that really conveys the passage through twilight. “Resting Point” closes the disc out, 10-minutes of gliding, meditative washes and a wonderfully cleansing feel. Animism is another superb release from Forrest Fang, a rich work that rewards both deep listening and the many repeat plays it will undoubtedly receive.

Available from Projekt.

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