“Much of the album suggests, in an abstract yet still striking way, the world of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, a sense of flight…and majestic contemplation of the power of the natural world.” – All Music Guide
“(A) large range of vibrant sounding acoustic instruments and a few synths are at play, melting the music culture of the East and the West in a fascinating, but most of all ingenious fashion.” –Sonic Immersion
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.
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.