Exposé Online banner

Forrest Fang — Scenes from a Ghost Train
(Projekt 349, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 2018-02-14:

Scenes from a Ghost Train Cover art

From the blackboard jungle to the waning crescent and beyond, visionary composer Forrest Fang has been honing and perfecting his craft since the early 80s, and if I’m not mistaken Scenes from a Ghost Train is his 16th release. His work is visionary, built upon layers of atmospherics, subtle percussive elements, world instruments, and plenty of sound processing, delays, and loops. Melodies embed themselves within the sonic fabric, and reveal themselves as events at various points, like markers on a journey through haze. Although each successive album is different in its own way, his production methods are unique and instantly recognizable as such, and like The Sleepwalker’s Ocean and Following the Ether Sun before it, Scenes… makes good on the dense layers of atmospherics that offer a floating ambient wash within which all other events shimmer. Opening with the four-part twenty-one minute title suite, Fang intoduces his soundwall as it brims with depth and shimmers with breath, all flowing outward from a stream of consciousness. The second section introduces more melodic elements, almost like the random ringing of bells over a bed of processed world instruments (which may include saron, cántaro, cumbus, kendang, and violin) each revealing itself as the piece proceeds. On the third and fourth sections, Dave Newhouse (ex-Muffins) joins in on various woodwinds, while more prominent percussive elements are brought closer to the fore, along with more evidence of eastern instruments (section four, “The Pulse of the Stars” is built up over a bed of violin and zither or santoor, with Newhouse’s flutes and soprano sax mixing freely with the atmospheres, and bass clarinet revealing itself at the bottom end, bringing the suite to a powerful conclusion. Among the five remaining pieces, “Enfolding” takes the listener on a ten-minute deep space journey that cycles through layers of sound in slow-evolving loops, with elements of the fabric glistening like slow-moving moonlight on a restless lake. “The Great Migration” is another side-long piece that opens with a slightly softer approach, like riding through a pillow of clouds, looping and evolving slowly as it goes, and revealing a vast panoramic soundworld of subtle imagery, with some mysterious percussive elements carrying it forward from the fourteen-minute mark. Overall, the entire disc fits in perfectly with Fang’s visionary style. If you haven't explored his work yet, let this be the starting point.


by Jon Davis, 2018-02-14:

The thing I notice most about Forrest Fang’s music is that his sounds create a world of their own, seemingly existing within an infinite space of possible sounds, all of which are distinctly his. All of these notes and textures are present in their own places within this world, and the listener, guided by the composer, wanders among them as if exploring a varied landscape. In one area is a pulsing node of string-like sounds phasing through various tonalities; a little way to one side is a chasm from which tinkling bell-like tones emanate; off to another side is a knot of percolating marimba-like notes; up above is a slowly turning globule of sparkling piano notes; off in the distance is another node of strings, this one playing different notes. Like a skilled tour guide with a sense of drama, Fang leads us around this virtual world, approaching one sonic node after another, but never getting so close to any that others are not also audible. There’s a dream-like suspension of time as we pass through space — nothing happens quickly, and whenever we notice a new sound, we realize that it was there before, just below our threshold of focus. In the far distance, we’re dimly aware of still more sounds, but they remain obscure, elements that may show up later in our path, or on our (Fang’s) next journey, or maybe remain from some previous trip. Forrest Fang has a room with a sign on the door: All Sounds Are Yours. And it contains not every sound that is possible, but every sound that he has ever used, or ever will use, or maybe it’s the same thing because time doesn’t function as we expect, at least not in this place. (Apologies to Hermann Hesse for adapting his idea.) No one rides the Ghost Train — we all become ghosts on it, witness to the ghosts of sounds past, present, and future. It is a peaceful journey — the ghosts are not malevolent. Nor are they beneficent — they just are.


Filed under: New releases , 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Forrest Fang, Dave Newhouse (Manna / Mirage)

More info

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Flyte - Dawn Dancer – This six-piece from Holland had been together since the early 70s, yet their first and only album wasn't to be released until '79. Plagued by setbacks, poor distribution, and lack of record company...  (1994) » Read more

Marillion - Afraid of Sunlight – After six years, Steve Hogarth's output with Marillion has reached this, their fourth album since the departure (and some would say demise) of Fish. The most immediate thing about Afraid of...  (1995) » Read more

Kava Kava - You Can Live Here – Blasting off with "Headset," a big bluesy rock song with brass trimmings, one might be reminded of Colosseum or other great British bands of the early 70s. Each track that follows reinforces...  (1995) » Read more

Richard Bone - X Considers Y, Ambiento & Vox Orbita – Although Richard Bone may be best known for his forays into the alternative techno-pop realms in the mid 80s, his work of late, while still being very electronic based and often poppy, has been far...  (1995) » Read more

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - The Birth of a Band - Isle of Wight Festival 1970 – Having seen bits of the footage floating around, I was excited to learn that Emerson Lake & Palmer’s live debut at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival was finally going to have an official DVD...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues