Forrest Fang: The Book of Wanderers (CD)

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Limited edition of 300

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Product Description

1. An Atom on a Long Chain 09:09
2. Song of the Wanderer 05:54
3. Tale of the Egret 08:05
4. Astir 04:00
5. Atlantis 12:44
6. Elephant Steps 06:24
7. Chasing Stars 05:47
8. From the Hollows 08:28
9.Water Pod 04:22
10. Kepler’s Return 06:20
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Information in English here. Click to order CD.

Avant Music News Pick of the Week, August 30, 2020

The Book of Wanderers, from Projekt ambient musician Forrest Fang, creates an auditory escape, an aspiration towards venturing outwards, imagining better times ahead. Direct and emotional, the collection of electronic tone poems was recorded primarily during the spring and summer 2020 coronavirus lockdown. “While confined to my home in the Bay Area,” says Fang, “I felt the need to create pieces that provided virtual spaces for my mind to wander. These idealized spaces became my inner world during this time.”

The album begins with “An Atom on a Long Chain,” an ambitious and lively piece featuring echoing piano, hypnotic string sounds, and interlocking rhythms derived partly from fractals. The mood shifts with the atmospheric “Song of the Wanderer,” in which a gamelan gong and an electric piano share space with misty synthesized and processed textures. The sustained mood continues with “Tale of the Egret,” which features special guest artist Robert Rich who plays flutes over a relaxed backdrop of treated percussive sounds and a celestial zither.

“Astir,” a quiet interlude for piano and strings, provides a transition to “Atlantis,” an extended soundscape of shimmering strings, piano, Mellotron, and gamelan that perhaps best embodies the album’s theme of utopian worlds. An intriguing Fourth World-style track, “Elephant Steps,” follows, combining its tribal rhythms with hammered strings and sustained choral voices.

A shift into the spatial realm of pure electronic music occurs on the next track, “Chasing Stars.” The expansive sound fields and distant reverberations of this piece evoke the beauty of stargazing. We then return to terra firma on “From the Hollows,” a textural piece Fang had originally intended as a belated birthday tribute to ambient musician Brian Eno.

Another short interlude, “Water Pod,” provides a playful transition into The Book of Wanderers’ final piece, “Kepler’s Return,” in which otherworldly electronic and choral drones converge into a harmonious universe suggested in 17th-Century astronomer Johannes Kepler’s “music of the spheres.”

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  1. padmin

    From Sonic Immersion
    “My Choice”
    On all previous albums of Forrest Fang I’ve encountered so far I’ve much enjoyed a rather complex style of music merging elements from Non-Western and Western music elements sophisticatedly. Being confined in his home studio during the Covid lockdown in spring and summer 2020, Forrest felt the urge to create an auditory escape that provided virtual, idealized spaces for his mind to wander.

    The result is the 71-minute The Book of Wanderers, an introspective ambient recording containing ten evocative electro-acoustic tone poems where Mr Fang (aside from the usual gamelan influences and slices of minimalism shining through) has found a way to blend many ingredients from his back catalogue with new sonic vistas. “Elephant steps” makes an energetic, rhythmic outing next to the overall dreamy realm found all over the album with “Astir”, “Atlantis”, “Chasing Stars and final track “Kepler’s Return” as highlights.

    With The Book of Wanderers the composer has outdone himself another time. It’s recommended to all who love enchanting, narrative ambient music. Chapeau, Forrest! -Bert Strolenberg

  2. reviews editor

    A review from
    The notes of a luminous piano trace a zigzagging appearance that runs in an iridescent breeze of sibylline colors. It’s like hearing Philip Glass’ repetitive piano. This opening seems to reflect on its future to finally undertake a modern dance choreography with a staging drawn from the echoes of the piano and its intoxicating notes which literally fly by alternating touches briskly. The flow is thus accentuated like in an avant-garde ballet. Bass pulsations second the pace of the piano which zigzags madly in the slow floating orchestrations. An Atom on a Long Chain carries its music admirably in relation to its title, when Forrest Fang undertakes a 3rd rhythm structure which slightly slows the pace in silky orchestrations. A very good title which undoubtedly initiates the most beautiful album of the Sino-American musician to date. When I really want to get off the hook, I often turn to the music of Forrest Fang. His predominantly acoustic ambient tribal style, the synths are weavers of atmospheres, has no equal in bringing us towards musical panoramas that we easily create on the paths of his sometimes convoluted music and sometimes turned towards progressive New Age. THE BOOK OF WANDERERS is a splendid album with strong moments of intensity which are comforted through peaceful ambient landscapes filled of wisdom.

    Like with Song of the Wanderer which is a great tribal ballad animated by gamelan percussions, creating a herd of bells supported by a piano with a subdued tone. Winds of mist surround the rhythm with an appearance of sunburnt silk. You hear voices that prove you are right and give an enigmatic lightness to Song of the Wanderer. Tale of the Egret makes the strings of an acoustic instrument murmur which unties the moods by creating an illusion of tribal celebration. Robert Rich’s flute reigns over the first part of this title inviting for a spiritual trance while a zither bewitches our momentary submission in a stunning title which best explains the ambient tribal expression. Astir offers good melodious music with a union of piano to a flotilla of violins in order to make the trees of this forest crying with the colors and breaths of iron oxide. Atlantis lives in an intense sound broth. A moving decor to which are grafted different sound elements that surround the melody plucked by an acoustic guitar. Its panorama is made up of stringed instruments, orchestral layers, violins with waltzing wings, ocher breezes and the murmurs of the wood fairies. This circular aria draws a shadow, dancing in an aerial dive which is the enchanting heart of this intense fight between melody and its contrasting elements.

    Breezes of tranquility are thundering powerful tribal percussions, strongly supported by clicking of fires in an overheated ambience. In a very Vangelis ambience, Elephant Steps takes us out of this long phase of atmospheres with a crazy rhythm. Knocks and various clay percussions refuse any rhythmic coordination in this tribal trance where cries are heard. A wall of shouts, forging a choir with murderous rioting intensity. A title of incredible intensity that made my Totems tremble. Speaking of Vangelis, Chasing Stars is a superb electronic melody which intoxicates us with its carousel of moiré arpeggios which goes up and down under a sky lit by its thousands of stationary prisms. From the Hollows is a dark ambient track with a texture of grainy winds blowing on chimes abandoned in the deserts of the future. The title has a high content of melancholy that manages at times to lead us into sordid ambiences where musicians strum stringed instruments without succeeding in sticking something tangible. There is this piano… but it’s far away and you can feel its disinterested pianist. I read somewhere that From the Hollows was composed for Brian Eno’s birthday. It looks like him, but I find that there is a lot of life, material and texture to ignore the beauties hidden in this title. Water Pod is another cheerful and catchy short tune with a festive folk approach. There is some Sensitive Chaos in this title, but in more tribal pagan, and these nice intoxicating tinkles of Gamelan percussions and the zither. Kepler’s Return ends this other brilliant Forrest Fang album with a dense atmospheric mosaic filled with drone buzzing. Our ears perceive the presence of this strange choir which has furnished the various walls with the textures of Dark Ambient scattered throughout THE BOOK OF WANDERERS. Built around the residue of chords stretched to the maximum and powdery and dark orchestrations, these walls are the fortresses of an album which offers all its possibilities in order to trap us!

    Why sulk his pleasure? Forrest Fang and his music are in a class of their own. Magical, mystical, ethnic and folkloric, THE BOOK OF WANDERERS ‘music is a huge atmospheric canvas where it takes us through different stories that all display a high level of professionalism. A superb album, powerful, intense and without weaknesses where illusion and disillusion amazes and surprises.

    Sylvain Lupari (February 27th, 2020) ****½*

  3. reviews editor

    A review from Expose:

    It seems like just yesterday I was writing a review of Fang’s previous album, Ancient Machines – his pace seems to be picking up speed of late, without any sacrifice of quality. In fact each succeeding album is more engaging than the one before it. It may be due to the fact that every new composition seems to be informed by a summary of everything he has done before, blended with new ideas as they appear, amid layers and layers of sound that reflect surprisingly well the breadth of ideas that are pulled together in the end result, the ten tracks on his latest, The Book of Wanderers being a culmination of sorts, echoing elements of at least a dozen previous releases while at the same time presenting something interesting and new. There’s no doubt that technology in 2020 makes the execution of complex musical ideas far easier than back in the early 80s when Fang started his career, no doubt contributing to the greater sonic density of his current work, as well as the pace at which new works can be resolved. Early influences like Reich and Glass still underpin a lot of the pieces here, but the gamelan and folk influences that came forward in the 90s are represented in strength. The nine-minute opener, “An Atom on a Long Chain,” is blessed by tuned percussion, bells, and a stirring undercurrent of both cyclical rhythms and dreamy textures; it’s one of those pieces that has so much going on that one could just listen to it over and over, hearing something new or in a different way with each listen. “Song of the Wanderer” is a few minutes shorter but pulls in the strong gamelan influences that will remind the listener of The Wolf at the Ruins or World Diary, with deep gongs, bells, and tuned percussion highlighting nearly every measure. A mystical percussive harp-like sound leads the way forward on “Chasing Stars,” immersed in a dreamy blanket of beautiful textures. A shorter piece for soft echoey piano with strings backing, “Astir” changes the mood to one of peace and prepares the listener for the thirteen-minute epic “Atlantis,” proceeding like a dreamy walk in the fog along the white fences from long ago, punctuated by bells and gongs, with shimmering textures floating off in the distance. The album closer, “Kepler’s Return,” is a cauldron of swirling electronics, shimmering strings, and interweaving massed choral panorama. Throughout The Book of Wanderers, something new is revealed with each repeat listen.

  4. padmin

    From The Electro Review

    Out now on Bandcamp and with a limited run of 300 very special CDs is Forrest Fang’s The Book Of Wanderers. This ambient and neuvo-avant-garde synopsis of sound and texture once again delivers the goods on a freshly prepared production. Created over Spring and Summer 2020, during the global lock-down, this work instigates wondrous and phenomenal inward journeys that shimmer and sing with their own ethereal splendour. The name-your-price digital release has unlimited plays online so if you want to save up and properly reward the artist, you can still enjoy the music.

    The music begins with chiming tones that echo in looped progressions backed up by swelling strings. An Atom on a Long Chain takes a repeating phrase and adjusts it with graceful angular diversions along the lines of a warm matrix. Then, heavenly piano tones sprinkle down like spring showers, the energy grows and natural awe shines in with torrents of stratospheric momentum. Perhaps a butterfly is flapping its wings somewhere, the juxtaposition of delicacy and sheer force becomes a pivot of mental stimulation.

    Smooth and manicured tones peep from sheltered shadows as the next number rises like a hilltop moon. Pillars of sideways light pinpoint wood and metallic sounds which gently rattle to a humming swirl of magnetism. Like wind moving in between branches and windowpanes, a kinesis of subtle intervention flutters in flowing rivers of charming harmony. Song of the Wanderer helps us take steps beyond the initial sentinel of our mind.

    Tale Of The Egret is next, with open spaces echoing with nature and ambience it unravels like Cleopatra. Strings are plucked and strummed while disparate drums pound in reverberating ranges. Pipe and tempo merges as flute begins to soar above the flurry of complimentary sounds. Upward drifts of impassioned potential blanket the buoyancy in parachutes of melodic exploration. Ethereal and exotic impetus conjures avenues that stretch into historical chapters and fairytale like destinations.

    A melancholy piano opens the new sounds. Harmonising strings apply a delicate layering that dresses the focus with flowing gowns of silken sonics. Billowing melodics traverse the compass in gentle and moving dances through space. The dimensions of sound are addressed with forlorn mime as individual questions bounce from blank expression to insinuated gesture. Astir walks us through sombre marshes where forests are slowly growing to replace them.

    Behold, for Atlantis is brought into temporary being as its sound is produced for us. Slender and seductive tones harmonise with brass and string in a breezy lift from the silence. Piano breaks like the white of a wave and sprinkles modes and harmonies across an entire shore-front of moving sound. Tall mountains rise from slumbering earthworks that push from once submerged geography. Ancient ideas are rekindled in the minds of those who walk in step with the vibration of this enchanted island.

    A slow and progressive tone reaches from the emptiness which becomes entwined with sister sonics as they drift and stretch in unison. A rhythm then casts a shadow like high up canopies sectioning the light. Percussion rises and expands to flow into each accepting dimension of the track, its liquid intensity pouring like clarifying stillness. Elephant Steps carries weight, as jangling symphonic rattles jostle with thumping driftwood bass and whirling choral voices.

    A magical orchestra of multi-tonal depth reveals the new track. Droning background shimmer patches the arpeggio like forefront as complex harmonies disappear in eternal rebirth. Gradual temperance adjusts fractions of the whole which clink upon the wheels of music to gracefully swing the sound apparatus into dynamic postures. This is Chasing Stars, the slow moving and gentle radiance reflects from angular and beautiful surfaces.

    From The Hollows begins with a depth in which to clamber down. In we go as plipping drops and shady echoes reverberate with cavernous allure. Heavy and thick dredges of bass sweep the viscous underlayer as flittering leaves and mineral veins glisten and shuffle with every footstep within. Ambient bells decorate the walls, marking various positions within the stony temple. The cool air clings to dank walls which recall the passing lantern light.

    Tribal bells and conks begins with a cheery motif then strings which chord and waver begin to rise and overpower the initial prettiness. A quality of the ancient invigorates the mix as separate sounds mingle and swish in gently lapping tides. Bells and xylophone sounds continue to jingle along cluttered pathways while gushing sea-breezes add seclusive bubbles to the passing moments of time. Water Pod allows us to float in abstract awareness within aquatic and eventful emotionscapes.

    The music finishes with Kepler’s Return. The iconic space scientist who’s name was adopted by one of our most powerful eyes in the sky is reincarnated once again. This time it’s ambient space music. We can appreciate the ideal behind this philosophy, with cosmic strings and shaking hands we approach escape velocity. Outward into the psychosphere we drift, visiting lines of sight known to only a select few who dared to venture so high. -Rowan B. Colver

  5. padmin

    From Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END September 10th, 2020 –

    “Albums by Forrest Fang are for that rare breed of listener who, upon each outing, wishes to travel someplace new. In this and every way The Book of Wanderers (71’20”) is a great success, as each of its ten tracks takes us somewhere we did not know we wanted to go. Using an impressive range of percussive and stringed sounds, electronic tones and synthesized sighs to evoke the metaphysical dimensions within the player, he plays brisk and brilliant, then slow and steady – conjuring an inclusive space-laced, ethereal doorway into mind and mood. Forrest Fang has appeared on several works by Robert Rich, who returns the favor here by offering beautiful flute soloing throughout Tale of the Egret. Both are skillful musicians who can play for night owls as well as they can for morning larks, and know how to keep a musical story moving. Yet it is the soft harmonic auras and hovering melodies they realize which cling to the ears and whisper in the heart. As primitive states grow more organized we find certain arrangements on The Book of Wanderers rendered with a warm appreciation for their complexity. Further in we find Fang’s futuristic fusion sound combining features of world ethnic instruments with advanced Ambient Music techniques. Its pieces which are defined by subtle gradations of light and shadow are paralleled by compositions of hard line, high finish, and tight precision – works that bring back stardust, then resolve into the quiet grandeur of shores closer to home. Some evoke a feeling of melancholy, while further in muted palettes and a gauzy veil of atmosphere provide a poignant sense of repose. In our world where everything is known the music produced by Forrest Fang remains a mystery. A man of our time, or maybe somewhat ahead of it, he is in close touch with his imagination. This remarkable and evolving contemplation is an enterprise that is for all of us – as we struggle with a vague vision of a unified world.”

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