Forrest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream (CD)

$16.99 $14.00


Limited edition of 500

Tracks

1 The Mouth of the Sea
2 Matted Leaves
3 Night Procession
4 Her Fading Image
5 Lullaby for a Twin Moon
6 Remembrance Point
7 Dream of the Last Fisherman
8 To the End and Back

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Over the course of seventeen solo albums and three-plus decades, Bay-area ambient/electronic musician Forrest Fang has cultivated his surrealist blend of electronically-transformed ethnic instruments and minimalist aural environments. Fang’s pieces reflect his uniquely personal universe of influences, mysterious objects and undefined phenomena. Gently layered drones combine with slow-moving piano themes, violin, as well as subtle Eastern string, wind, and percussive elements.

A ‘Fata Morgana’ is a special form of mirage that makes objects appear to float in air. On Fang’s latest Projekt album, The Fata Morgana Dream, his sonic world suspends time with accents and undertones that seemingly emerge from the subconscious.

“For this album,” Fang reflects, “I created a series of atmospheric pieces that are connected by a nocturnal and free-floating spirit that allows different instruments, treatments and effects to interact in a malleable space. The overall mood comes from somewhere between sleep and wakefulness where the familiar might reappear in an unfamiliar way because of the dreamlike state.”

The album begins with “The Mouth of the Ocean,” a layered and subtly-textured piece with strings and echoing electronic tones marking the commencement of a colorful journey. A visit to the dense tropical landscape of “Matted Leaves” follows, leading the listener to a “Night Procession” of gamelan-flavored polyrhythms that are accompanied by looping violins. Two contemplative keyboard-based pieces follow — “Her Fading Image” and “Lullaby for a Twin Moon” — that are complemented by Fang’s electronic clouds suspended in the realm of thought. The next piece, “Remembrance Point,” is a highlight of the album with its echoing piano riding just above a bed of electronic strings. The album makes a gradual and gentle return with its final two pieces. “Dream of the Last Fisherman” features Fang’s Balinese and Burmese gongs and a Japanese Palm Harp, while “To the End and Back” features his violin, a sea of overlapping synthesizer drones and a small, resonating sound sculpture (built by visionary designer Harry Bertoia) that Fang strokes with his fingers.

This is a special design digipak opening on the long side, for a vertical presentation

Weight .3 lbs
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Reviews

  1. Reviews Editor

    From All Music

    Continuing the most prolific run of his decades-long career, Forrest Fang’s seventh album of the 2010s is an astonishing set of dense, hypnotic dreamscapes. The album’s title references a complex, free-floating mirage which makes distant objects (such as ships) appear to be levitating over water, and the music itself has a similarly mystifying, hard-to-explain quality. The Chinese-American composer is well known for utilizing both Western and non-Western instrumentation, and these compositions blend enveloping synthesizer treatments with arrangements of Burmese gongs, zither, violin, a Japanese palm harp, and even a sound sculpture by Harry Bertoia. It’s as ethereal as anything else released by Projekt, and far too haunting to be typecast as new age. Opener “The Mouth of the Sea” is truly stunning, spotlighting a gorgeous melody and building up foggy atmospherics until it verges on overwhelming. “Night Procession” is a blurry rush of fragile chimes and dancing hand drums, swept away in a subconscious trance. “Lullaby for a Twin Moon” is one of the album’s most stripped-down pieces; it captures the sensation of leaving nearly everything behind in order to face one’s fears. “Dream of the Last Fisherman” is much calmer and prettier, with gongs gently resounding behind a graceful palm harp melody, all bathing in an Orb-like drift. -Paul Simpson

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Textura

    However tautological it might sound, the more Forrest Fang personalizes his music, the more it individuates itself from others in the ambient-electronic field. To be precise, it’s not so much the San Francisco Bay Area-based artist’s compositional voice that marks his music as his but rather the arrangements and instrument choices used in the productions. On The Fata Morgana Dream, his seventeenth solo album in a recording career spanning more than three decades, synthesizer and electronics are augmented by violin, saron, cumbus, Burmese gongs, Japanese palm harp, and Harry Bertoia sound sculpture, among other things.

    The album’s unusual title includes a term that refers to a special type of mirage that makes objects appear to float in a narrow band immediately above the horizon. It’s easy to draw a connecting line from that phenomenon to the eight pieces on the release, considering that Fang purposefully designed the atmospheric material to approximate a state midway between sleep and waking. If the music induces a quasi-dreamlike condition and a sense of time-suspension, said effects are consistent with Fang’s intentions. With track titles such as “Lullaby for a Twin Moon” and “Dream of the Last Fisherman” in play, a programmatic character can’t help but inform the recording, with these and other titles creating the idea of a nocturnal journey.

    After a blissful, electronics-heavy opening establishes a state of luxuriant calm, “The Mouth of the Sea” lunges into action, animated as it is by the emergence of rapid-flowing, dulcimer-like patterns; here in microcosm we witness the move from an intro that could conceivably have been produced by any number of ambient practitioners to a gamelan-inflected swirl that’s got Fang’s fingerprints all over it. Wrapping themselves around the thrumming center, ethereal choral emissions and vaporous washes add to a dense sound design that swells to epic proportions and carries on into the subsequent roar of “Matted Leaves.” The gamelan dimension resurfaces in the phantasmagoric wail of “Night Procession,” though this time beefed up with polyrhythmic drumming and other percussion flourishes, and in the slow-motion entrancement of “Dream of the Last Fisherman,” whose individual character’s heightened by the presence of Burmese gongs and Japanese Palm Harp.

    At album’s end, Fang first distinguishes “Remembrance Point” by draping echo-drenched ripples of acoustic piano across a base of electronic strings and then individuates “To the End and Back” by threading the snake-like rattle of stroked Bertoia sound sculpture textures into a long-form meditation otherwise built from shimmering violin and synthesizer elements. To Fang’s credit, almost every piece separates itself from the others through the incorporation of distinct details, be it violin, piano, or gamelan percussion. As initially stated, it’s this that gives his music its personal quality and helps make his recordings particularly rewarding.

  3. padmin

    From Sonic Immersion
    >My Choice< In my opinion composer Forrest Fang has delivered some very well crafted, evocative ambient art the last five years previous to this one. The high quality is extended on The Fata Morgana Dream (again mastered expertly by Robert Rich) offering a fine and spacious blend of acoustic and electronic sounds from the West and East. In the words of the composer it’s a series of atmospheric pieces that are connected by a nocturnal and free-floating spirit that allows different instruments, treatments and effects to interact in a malleable space.

    The rich and very open sounding 67-minute result is hypnotizing, dreamful and scattered with gliding textures, swirling patterns of motion and varying dynamic levels. It opens up windows to beautiful farscapes of which the borders seem to expand or even briefly disappear as the mesmerizing, dreamful journey spreads its wings. And yes, the delicate sonic perfume of gamelan and Indonesia surfaces here once again occasionally (“Night Procession”, “Dream of the last Fisherman”).

    Like its predecessors The Fata Morgana Dream makes quality ambient for an off-the-world trip to immerse and disappear in…

  4. padmin

    From Sequenzerwelten

    Wie schon bei den vorherigen Alben von Forrest Fang, wird die Fantasie des Hörers bei der Musik, sowohl auch beim Cover, auf angenehmste Weise angeregt. The Fata Morgana Dream ist ein wunderbares Ambientalbum geworden. Die Verschmelzung der sehr athmosphärischen Sounds mit den Klängen von asiatischen Instrumenten, die bei Forrest´s Musik nicht fehlen dürfen, lädt zum Träumen ein – und wem eine Fata Morgana erscheint – Glückwunsch 🙂
    Normalerweise ist eine Fata Morgana nur eine optische Täuschung – aber dieser Traum, oder diese Fata Morgana ist echt. Denn sie taucht jdesmal wieder auf – als Download, oder als CD ….. und das ist gut so!

    Nicht nur Fans von Forrest Fang wird dieser Traum sehr gefallen, er ist nahezu Pflicht für alle EM-Fans und die, die es mit dieser Musik werden können. -Uwe Sasse

  5. padmin

    From Exposé

    Appropriately titled, most of Forrest Fang’s catalog could seem like the soundtrack of dreams, and this latest release underscores that sense, from the sprawling eleven-minute opener “The Mouth of the Sea” to the closing moments of “To the End and Back,” Fang masterfully uses synthesizer textures and electronics blended with a variety of (often heavily processed) exotic acoustic instruments to achieve the widescreen panoramic vistas that a listener can immerse themselves in on any of the eight tracks herein. While the textural aspects are certainly in the floating ambient realm, with elements sometimes sounding akin to distant voices, the acoustic and micropercussive bits offer a very detailed beauty if one chooses to listen closely – and I do recommend that – headphones and low light are best for the experience. There are muted melodies spun throughout the fabric that coalesce and build a strong identity in each of the pieces, though what melodies are heard may at times seem somewhat random and happenstance, as on “Her Fading Image,” where the backdrop seems to be built of processed strings and the melodies emerge from it, seemingly from some sort of harp or zither, all immersed in deep echoey reverb.

    Drifting backward in time a bit is a piece titled “Matted Leaves” which follows the long opener, and builds off of some subtle bamboo percussive sound, growing deeper and stronger over time with the addition of synths and strings and other mysterious cavernous sounds. “Remembrance Point” builds with keyboards over a drifting and colorful melodic wash, vaguely reminiscent of something way back on his third album, Migration, but altered enough to give the result a whole new feel. “Dream of the Last Fisherman” evokes a sense of loneliness and mystery with wooden mallets and gongs and perhaps some subtle (synthesized?) wind instruments weaving their way through the everpresent synth backdrop, eventually joined by what sounds a bit like a Japanese harp; all of these elements at work together create dense layers of mystical imagery that follow the listener through the journey. Overall, The Fata Morgana Dream works on a number of different levels, creating a wondrous world that a listener can get lost within. -Peter Thelen

  6. Reviews Editor

    From STARSENDRADIO
    Has a lost tribe ever been discovered that was actually lost? Forrest Fang might be from one such clan. His release The Fata Morgana Dream (66’50”) feels from out of some unexplored quarter – and so as fresh and unexpected as life itself. Convinced we are wandering through a stranger’s dream this work creates a swirling blend of the real and the mythic. Content as ever to revel in his own designs, Fang shifts the music between realms – insisting as always on the amazing complexity of the world. As usual, multiple influences have been woven together with extraordinary artistry. Providing a sense of place, in the most abstract of geographic terms, the eight tracks of this album are themselves fascinating journeys through uncharted territory – with Fang as our brilliant traveling companion. A pleasant escape, The Fata Morgana Dream tracks the mind as it moves through it. Beneath the permeating reverb of its sustaining atmosphere are granular textures. Saturating drones penetrate our listening space, as acoustic instruments are picked, plunked, strummed and struck – yielding a rhythm deeper than that of any digital native. Soundtracks of a secret zone, the compositions build out and shimmer like a mirage on the horizon. All are varied meditations on what it is to be one kind of human. A rare treasure of an album, The Fata Morgana Dream deepens the mystery of the individual experience. In a masterful, tightly controlled performance Fang decorates our condition with music. Originality is a rare commodity in art, and works by this musician sound like no one else’s. Forrest Fang, it is far too easy to admire you.

  7. Reviews Editor

    From Synth & Sequences

    A dark wind, nibbled by sonic dust, rises and falls, like a waltz in two steps, to bring the introduction of “The Mouth of the Sea” to our ears. Beautiful orchestrations float there, as well as effects of rattlesnakes, bringing the winds towards the mouth of a Japanese harp. A brief festive speech follows in this Oriental tribal dance tune which is part of Forrest Fang’s sonic perfumes. Multilayers of winds and drones, supported by dark voices, embrace the Koto fever, enclosing the ambiances in an ambient tumult that will even exceed the borders of “Matted Leaves”. The Fata Morgana Dream is, and this by far, the darkest and least accessible album that the Sino-American artist has produced since I discovered his universe in 2011 with the album Unbound. Which is saying a lot! The music is darker and less melodic, except for “Lullaby for a Twin Moon”, with a rage contained in the power of sound waves which carve nightmares or mirages. This doesn’t mean an album to proscribe! Still very close to the territories of Steve Roach and Robert Rich, who also does the mastering, the music of Forrest Fang always has this little something special that charms the hearing. The tones of the Marxolin are quite attractive in this complex universe which responds quite well to the theme of the album; either forms of mirages which give the impression that objects float in the air. Minimalist concept, multilayer of synth drones, lines and voices. Tibetan percussions, oriental instruments and piano as well as shimmering melodious themes fill the ambiances of an album where the first 4 titles are a barrier of atmospheres which can discourage those who want to embrace the world of Forrest Fang.

    “Night Procession” follows with an ambient and noisy rhythmic structure that transforms into a haunting slow-moving tribal dance, filled with the tears of a Marxolin Psaltery violin. It makes me think of the secret rhythms of Roach, Braheny & Burmer in Western Spaces. There is a fascinating intensity in this structure, both rhythmic and harmonic, because of an orchestral din as sibylline as the art of these Chinese shadows that fade here in mirages of all kinds. The sound character remains thunderous with these innumerable layers of synth which always carry these dusts of tones, these particles of sounds either deformed or resonant. “Her Fading Image” is an ambient tune without essences of rhythm. Only waves and winds which lead an evasive and melancholic melody carved by a keyboard and its pensive chords. Delicate, “Lullaby for a Twin Moon” is also very musical. Deprived of darkness coming from the charge of the breezes which have buried the first 4 tracks of The Fata Morgana Dream, its melody seems to be the ancestor of “Night Procession”. Piano notes that break like a minimalist storm, “Remembrance Point” mixes wonderfully sweetness and anger on a melody played with such anger that it sculpts a strangely captivating pace. It sounds like Philip Glass! This is another minimalist movement projected by gongs that opens the slow march of “Dream of the Last Fisherman”. More ambient and more oriental in nature, especially with the addition of a kind of Koto, the music is overwhelmed by a huge layer of voices and fog effects which go astray in some nice orchestrations. A title very sweet and less musical than “To the End and Back” which ends masterfully an album that is worth to tame. And it will come… -Sylvain Lupari

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