Exposé Online banner

Forrest Fang — Folklore
(Cuneiform Rune 68, 1995, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1995-07-01:

Folklore Cover art This is Forrest Fang's first album for Cuneiform, but his sixth overall. Through the years, Fang's music has gradually shifted from a more ambient/electronic music (Eno, Terry Riley) mixed with acoustic instrumentation like violin and mandola, to a something closer to traditional Chinese classical music. Folklore, like the two previous records, employs a multitude of non-western instruments (and in some cases additional musicians to play them), yet these are not applied to the music in stock traditional ways: a track may combine Burmese gongs, Mexican clay drums, balalaika, guzheng (Chinese zither) and a Thai metallophone for example. In short, his original eastern-influenced compositions are arranged for wide ranging instrumentation drawn from many cultures. This is the crux of Fang's style. So what does it sound like? The music here covers a lot of territory, and one might at times be reminded of the work of Robert Rich or Steve Roach (both of whom are featured on one track here), the floating style of Jade Warrior during their Island period, the German band Between, classical and traditional Chinese music, and even some Javanese / Balinese elements. One thing worth noting is that the music features very little keyboard type synthesizers or any amplified western instruments, although certain sounds are obviously produced using samplers. Voices are used on one track, evoking a native-American spirituality. Folklore is above all a cerebral experience, a floating evocation of eastern cultural elements in the framework of western music and technology. Frankly, I think a lot of folks might enjoy this, as long as the expectations are clear. If the quieter, and more culturally diverse elements of progressive music interest you, then by all means check this out.

by Rob Walker, 1995-07-01:

While Fang's earlier material was more firmly based in the electronic and progressive rock genres, his recent recordings have found him delving deeper and deeper into experimentation with various non-Western musics. Most noticeable among these have been various Asian musical traditions, including Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Balinese. However, Fang doesn't limit his tonal palette to strictly Eastern sounds, incorporating Middle Eastern, African, Indian, and South American instruments into his world music stew. Folklore is quite aptly titled, then, for the music on this album is strongly reflective of the folk and classical musical traditions of a variety of cultures. It is obvious that Fang has undertaken some serious study of non-Western musics, as evidenced by the highly idiomatic writing for the diverse array of instruments he employs on this album. Assisted by a variety of Eastern musicians, he effectively captures the essence of these musical traditions in his own compositions. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Folklore, though, is Fang's clever juxtaposition of these various musics, incorporating instruments from one tradition into the style of another, and weaving all these instruments and styles into his own personal musical tapestry. And though this album is primarily based in traditional world musics, Fang's musical past is not completely forgotten; Steve Roach and Robert Rich both contribute some very effective electronic textures which subtly enhance the pieces without disrupting the otherwise acoustic ambiance. The album overall is very effective; Fang creates and maintains a predictably exotic but also a rather mysterious atmosphere, and this sense of mystery increases as the album progresses. On later tracks, strange (to Western ears) vocalizations mingle with the acoustic/electronic instrumental moods, creating some intriguing sonic landscapes. In this regard Folklore is quite reminiscent of some of Mexican composer Jorge Reyes' work, in particular the haunting and evocative album Nierika. Though Folklore may be a bit too much in the world music vein for some progressive music listeners, anyone with an interest in non-Western musics should definitely find this album an enjoyable release.

Filed under: New releases , Issue 7 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Forrest Fang, Robert Rich, Steve Roach

More info

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Visible Touch - Forgotten Land & Vienna – They're called Visible Touch though they have nothing whatsoever to do with 80s Genesis or any Genesis for that matter. Think instead of all those great 80s hair-farmer bands: The Scorpions, Judas...  (1999) » Read more

Sanna Kurki-Suonio - Musta – With this release, Northside proves that their string of extraordinary CDs (see last issue’s overview) was no fluke. In addition, Musta proves that Sanna Kurki-Suonio is not just one of the Finnish...  (1999) » Read more

Heldon - Agneta Nilsson & Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale – With these two reissues over the last few months, Cuneiform have faithfully completed their exhaustive Pinhas/Heldon reissue series. While both of these albums are rightly considered transitional...  (1995) » Read more

Etna - Etna – Out of the undiscerning mass factory of Mellowland every once in a while comes an album well worth waiting for. From 1975, Etna's sole album is a gem for jazz rock/fusion fanatics. What's really...  (1994) » Read more

The Third and the Mortal - Tears Laid in Earth – This new Norwegian band are already eliciting comparisons to White Willow, but that is actually a somewhat superficial comparison used for lack of a better one. The Third and the Mortal bridge the gap...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues