Freitag, 3. Dezember 2010

Death Ambient - Drunken Forest

  A sound comes closer from the distance. Warmth swells around you. Water drips from the leaves just like the sweat from your face drips constantly.  The walk through the forest lead you down a strange path you never took before. It sounds crazy but you can't stop but thinking that the forest around you breathes, moves, watches your every step. The humidity is overwhelmingly high. A haze of sound is audible but it’s hard to recognize any instrument you know.  
The beauty of this place seems endless and so does your disorientation. As you look back over your shoulder you see the trees apparently grew together and build a massive wall. You have to move deeper and deeper into the Drunken Forest..

"Drunken Forest" is the collaborational band/project of Ikue Mori, Kato Hideki and Fred Frith. All 3 are quite profilic musicians of their own and quite busy. The tzadik site claims the creation of "Drunken Forest" took 6 years. After hearing this album over and over again since it’s release in 2007 I'm extremely glad they took enough time to come up with such an amazing album.

"Drunken Forest" is an ambient record in the truest sense of the word. This music evokes strong images and keeps flowing for it's entire duration (54:13). Moods are constantly changing, from the mist and dripping water of opening track "Lake Chad" to the more mellow but hazy tones of "Thermohaline" and the tragic hymn "River Tigris" sporting a great violin melody. "River Tigris" is also one of the few songs which features percussion performed by Jim Pugliese. He does a great job here in creating some of the more dynamic moments regarding tempo variation but still manages to stay in the mist of sound wafting around you, only serving the atmosphere.

Ikue Mori does what she does best. Squeezing sounds out of her laptop, based on her drummer and drummachine-manipulating past, which sound more organic and fluid than anything you'd associate with drums or laptops. She is a true master of sound manipulation and probably the most important improviser using a laptop as instrument of choice. Fluid soundscapes and rhythmic klicks and bleeps sound as if her laptop is a strange device making all of nature's true sounds audible instead of sounding like a machine.

Frith's performance might seem unimpressive compared to the sheer range of extended techniques, rhythms, melodies and sound experimentations of his solo guitar work. Nevertheless he's exactly the right guitarist for this album. Having explored so many techniques, genres and formats Frith is more aware of how to create soundscapes than any other guitar player on this planet. It would be easy to screw this record up by unneccessary soloing and showing off technically. But Frith steps back, letting every melody or sound evolve slowly, with great patience and sense for pacing. 

Kato Hideki is the one giving this record a great sense of melody and beauty which isn't present in a whole bunch of avant-garde music. He plays an insane amount of instruments here (tzadik lists Acoustic And Electric Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Analog Synthesizer, Violin, Banjo, Mandolin, Accordion, Ukelele, Electric And Lap Steel Guitar, Vocals, Soprano And Alto Recorder, Glasses, Ice And Water and I’m pretty sure he plays Shakuhachi also. Though it could be sampled.). Most of his melodies sound like sketches of something bigger. Little fragments of melody, recalling traditional japanese music are filtered until they become a part of this surreal piece of music. It is not until "River Tigris" when you realize this music really has a monumental quality once the thickness of sound is lifted for a short, majestic moment. But still you can't help but admit this was in the music from the very beginning

Use of melody is sparse though every song is melodic. The pacing is just very slow. But believe me it is incredibly effective and will take you on a trip right into the mirrors of your mind. The music is full of warmth and mysteries to unravel like a documentation on japanese bamboo forests directed by Salvador Dalí. Just imagine that put into music. If you like atmospheric music to the slightest degree you need to hear this album. It's a masterpiece. My personal favourite record of 2007.

I suggest experiencing this record via a good stereo system in a dimly lit room or with good stereo headphones. Everything else won't do it justice.

Cd time: 54:13
Fred Frith: Electric Guitar
Ikue Mori: Laptop Computer
Kato Hideki: Acoustic And Electric Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Analog Synthesizer, Violin, Banjo, Mandolin, Accordion, Ukelele, Electric And Lap Steel Guitar, Vocals, Soprano And Alto Recorder, Glasses, Ice And Water
Special Guest
Jim Pugliese: Percussion

Standout tracks:

Death Ambient:

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