I’ll start by saying that I enjoy Frore’s Cyclic Movement, but then I have to temper the statement by wondering out loud if I like it because of how much it reminds me of my favorite Steve Roach tribal works. I say that with all due respect and appreciation; this album lands smack-dab in the bullseye of my musical wheelhouse, nails every tribal trope that I like, and sends me into a fairly deep groove. But if you’re going to follow footsteps, you have to accept the “sounds like.” Frore (aka Paul Casper) does a good job of pairing off airy washes with familiar percussive sounds. The tracks here tend to start small, leading off with a quiet passage or drone, then build intensity through layers. While we’re on the subject of intensity, Frore piles it on in the opening track, “Spirit Call.” From a fairly innocuous start, this piece rises up on waves of percussion, from the clatter of sticks to deeper drums. Flute brings in a breathy organic tone over chants that come up out of nowhere. And then, just to drive the ritual home, there are screams. (Just wanted to warn the faint of heart.) “Northern Winds” and “Gavia” are the most Roach-influenced tracks here. There’s really no escaping comparison, but they’re still good tracks. Which, again, may be more a function of how many of my standard tribal-ambient pleasure centers they ping. “Gavia” brings the combination of lush pads and interwoven percussion lines, accented with the occasional call on ocarina. I find that there are places on Cyclic Movement where I become too aware of the loop I’m in. Although it’s the nature of the beast, and plenty of this music relies on repetition, artists do need to be mindful of the dynamics and the need for shifts, however subtle.* While a loop can become hypnotic, if the repetition is blatantly noticeable, particularly in the use of forceful elements, it can pull a listener out. This came to mind in listening to “Fading Embers.” Like “Gavia,” it’s pads and percussives, with a sequencer line pulling it forward. To my ears, the sequencer gets a bit static and then I’m out of the moment. Other listeners’ experience may vary.
Cyclic Movement has a lot to offer tribal ambient fans. It may very well be that I listen to far too much music, so the associations and the things I pick out as library elements may temper my experience. Hear things enough and you recognize things. But there is good power here, and it’s worth checking out.
Available from Relaxed Machinery.
*I feel, for whatever reason, that I need to justify here that this is my opinion as a listener, not someone who can actually create the music.