It is hard to believe that the album which forms other half of this one and where I first became acquainted with Forest Robots, was only six years ago. The world has changed a lot in that time, not always for the better, yet Fran Dominguez, the man behind the project, continues to find beauty and awe in it. Not only find but translate the majesty of those landscapes and vistas, the emptiness and experience of being in such wild and wonderful places into some of the most beguiling music you will hear.
The music itself has always been seen by its creator as a “love letter to my daughter about the wonders of nature.” Although this seems a very intimate and personal conversation, the music has a similar effect on us all. It has charmed us with its moods and majesty, soothed us with its spaciousness and soul, and allowed us to escape, dream, and bathe in the beauty of the world beyond the cities. And so that private conversation is also a universal invitation for us all to experience such wonders.
As the title suggests, Supermoon Moonlight Part Two is a continuation of that first sonic step. And if some of the albums that sit between the debut and this latest release have taken more spacious forms, reflecting the vastness and solitude of the places being described, Supermoon Moonlight Part Two, like its earlier travelling companion, is made of more solid stuff. It is more beat-driven, more reliant on groove and structure, and takes on more robust forms (relatively speaking, the music remains understated and gentle) rather than the drifting ambience and neo-classical nature of, say, After Geography.
Although the music is always instrumental in nature, the titles they bear are enough to set the scene. Guiding enough to sketch out the place or purpose of the song lightly but brief enough to allow us, the listener, to paint our own hues and add our own details. Like all instrumental music, it may begin as a way for the artist to send his thoughts and ideas out into the world. But upon receipt, the listener breathes their own life into it, bringing their own, new and individual meaning to each piece. Music with lyrics seems to have the same conversation with everyone who hears it. Instrumental music allows myriad conversations, all of them beyond the composer’s control.
All The Rivers Born In The Mountains opens up the musical conversation, combining beat-driven confidence and understated ambient electronica, setting the tone for the music to come. The beats seem to provide feelings of euphoria rather than groove, the music a series of sound washes wandering around and about the staccato riffs and drawn-out notes. And with only the title to guide us, we can still picture the path of that titular river, from a tumbling mountain stream to a broad, meandering waterway, slowly searching out the sea.
In All The Places That We Roam and Wander is a more considered journey, more relaxed and pausing to rest now and again before picking up the pace and moving on. It seems less purposeful, wandering in the beautiful half-lost state that the title suggests, concentrating on the moment rather than the movement, the place, not the purpose.
In Every Ray Of Light Between The Reeds And Trees, the music describes the mottled patterns of the sun’s rays as they find their way past the trees and plants of the wild spaces. The Clouds Then Turned Into Castles is slightly angular and off-beat, and Everything Changes Shape Under The Supermoon is filled with atmosphere, anticipation and a certain amount of anxiety.
It isn’t hard to see some of the sonic reference points being called upon here. Whether conscious or otherwise, echoes of artists such as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Four Tet and Brian Eno can be heard offering the most gentle of guiding hands. In what it is trying to achieve, underground artists such as Grasslands are allies, in concept, if not so much in sound.
And as much as I have loved everything that Forest Robots have done, it is music such as that found on both Supermoon Moonlight albums which appeals to me most. Perhaps I prefer something more structured, tethered, and robust (again, a word to use in a relative context.) Others may prefer the more ambient albums. But what the ever-growing, ever graceful Forest Robots back catalogue shows is that even within the niche nature of the music being made, there is something for everyone.
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