Forrest Fang - Following The Ether Sun
On 2016's The Sleepwalker's Ocean, Forrest explored the raw power and movement of water, notably the aura that water possesses when combined with darkness. "Night Ferry" was an expression of wonderment, "Geiger" was a deep ocean dive guided by the slight tock of a hand-held navigation device, and "Lumin" was the introduction of light as a foreign concept, a gentle but unfamiliar presence after plunging such sonic depths in the first 6 songs.
It seems Forrest isn't quite ready to let go of the importance of water. On Following The Ether Sun, he turns the Earth's energy source into liquid, drinking deeply from the inherent warmth and finding even more experimentation and inspiration. It's not quite as diverse as 2015's Letters To The Farthest Star, instead, it toes the line between his atmospheric Sans Serif project, and the rambunctious elements of songs like "The Luminous Crowd". There's a re-introduction of piano (notably on "Midnight Rain" and the Eno-esque "Receding Pool"), and he's dusted off the percussion section for "Hinterlands" and "A River In Retrograde", creating a soundscape that blends exotic elements from multiple continents. "Hinterlands" especially indulges his worldly leanings. The drum machine traces an African rhythm, as Asian and Middle Eastern instruments merrily traipse away on top of it. It could be the soundtrack to any number of international adventures, and it's probably the closest an artist has come in 2017 to representing the cover art of an album in song.
Forrest mentioned in a February 2017 interview that he's lost two close family members recently, though mortality doesn't seem to be an overarching theme on the record, nor is it a blatant celebration of life. It feels like the evocation of what a creative mind goes through when experiencing isolation. Forrest's doesn't perform live, and despite branching out with a number of collaborations (notably with Robert Rich) over his accomplished career, there's still a sense of loneliness attached to his music. Films commonly portray solitary children or teenagers, locked in their room, using literature to live the kind of full and exciting life they aren't able to in the real world. This is not to say Forrest is a recluse, rather that his music explores the transportive power of the human mind; the ability to be adventurous with merely a Forrest Fang CD and a decent set of headphones. All the best ambient music takes the listener on a journey, with track titles as a guide. Following The Ether Sun is a blueprint for sustaining a helpful and focused attitude when the outside world may not be conducive to it.