Buy a copy here (select 'Music by Record label > 'HS Recordings')
Recorded during a one day session in late 2001 but released only a year and a half later, "Electric Forest" is a new collaboration between the ambient artists Matthew Florianz (also known as Liquid Morphine) and Erik T'Sas, who had already signed together "Improvisaties op D", this time helped by a third musician, Joris de Man.
A bleak black and white cover and a minimal artwork: the visual side of "Electronic Forest" both fits well the rest of the HS Recordings roster and introduces the listener well to the music of this CD. Divided into two suites by the only sung track ("Capricious"), this album takes the utterly atmospheric and droney elements that these artists have delivered in the past, enriching them with more dynamic and accessible elements, may it be piano, some strings or a few beats.
Heavily drone based, the first suite (the first five tracks) still stays melodic and very soft, the repetitive background being more of a continuum of bleak but clear tones than anything gritty. The music flows delicately and with a lot of modesty, staying constantly extremely gentle and soft. Calm and beautiful, "Electronic forest" then works like an synthetic and ambient craddle song, rocking you softly to sleep with its extremely soft tonal shifts and vasts hypnotic soundscapes, which culminate with "Capricious", on which semi-whispers choirs add a very human touch to the music.
More organic and flowing, and a bit less massive, the second suite (from "Ritual" to "Smoke") is a somewhat darker assemblage, in which shorter sounds get a bit more echoed, and in which the forest metaphor loses a bit of its relevancy to the profit of more "wet" sounds, rising images of seas and rivers more than of the trees pictured on the CD cover. And while the album is relatively long (70 minutes) for something so calm, you don't find yourself watching the clock on your CD player, for when "Electronic Forest" doesn't hypnotize you with its tone, it melts nicely in the background, forming a purely "ambient" fabric.
At time reminding slightly of some Cold Meat Industry release (most of all of the first two Morthound releases, and of the calmest of the calm Arcana tracks with "Capricious"), "Electronic Forest" is a surprisingly accessible and gentle album, in which the decidedly ambient approach never becomes too abstract or bleak. Obviously not the right thing to buy if you are looking for beats, this album should please both people into drones, but looking for a somewhat "easy" record, and fans of calm and contemplative ambient music.
Recycle Your Ears, Music Webzine
Recorded in a
single afternoon in 2001, this recording captures three talented electronic
musicians in an incredible zone. The spontaneous and improvisational nature
of these 14 tracks provides an ambient space music experience of the highest
order, and takes the listener on a mind expanding journey. Intricate compositions
moving back and forth from light to dark, coupled with crisp production
provide for superb listening. Bold and majestic ,this work often recalls
some of the best space music of the seventies, but has little or no electronic
percussion or sequencers. The sound is classic and elegant, but not derivative.
Electronic Forest (Matthew Florianz, Joris de Man and Erik t'Sas) releases an orchestral ambient project that has a lightness of being. This one hour+ excursion is a multi-layered fusion of dark entries and smoky mazes. Having started the recording process in 2001, this young trio had many twists along the way before seeing their project surface. But as it does it glides right alongside works by vidnaObmana, Robert Rich and Saul Stokes. Sand is one of those tracks that has a luminosity akin to floating above a mirror, suspended by its own reflection. This is clearly the type of work that is indicative of collaboration with filmmakers and others. Blending synths and guitars with other sound hybrids these guys have set out to make music evocative of late night suspense and early morning foggy ambiguity.
Electronic Forest is a set of laid out minimalism from Mathew Florianz, Erik T'Sas and Joris de Man. The evolution of this e-music style is actually quite interesting and quite universal. It is easy to take it all the way back to Brian Eno in the mid 1970s but that is not the end. There are definite similarities to Brians albums of that era. There are, however, stronger similarities to Sonic Seasonings, by Wendy Carlos. Taking giant leaps forward, Steve Roach and Robert Rich have experimented with dark minimalism as have Mathias Grassow and Alio Die. Mike Griffin launched Hypnos in the mid 1990s and the style flourishes to this day. This is one of the stronger efforts of this style. Mathew, Erik and Joris surround their drone with dark atmospheres, experimental sounds and subtle melodies. The soundscapes are totally organic and mystical. There are plenty of clues but no answers.
Released on the HS Recordings label, who of course are total perfectionists both in sound and presentation, this album promises something special. Though not really a follow-up to the astonishing 'GrijsGebied' this is the first studio album to be released by Matthew and Co since that milestone. So I was looking forward to this with great anticipation.
The first 50 copies of the album come with a bonus disc with extra material on it, this review however will concetrate on the the main 'Electronic Forest' album itself. Packaging is somewhat simpler than GrijsGebied, being a normal CD jewel case with HS Recordings' trademark monochrome artwork. Perhaps this time to say that this is more of a normal HS release, than a uniquely packaged extravaganza like GrijGebied or OpenStage.
Anyway, what about the music. Well although there are separate tracks listed, the album is actually organised as two 'suites' of continuous tracks separated by a single track, so you get two long pieces, with a shorter piece in between. The tracks in the suites are seamless, flowing one into the next, sometimes so cleanly that you don't realised that the track has in fact changed. Tracks 1 to 5 form 'Electronic Forest Suite 1', track 6 is the single piece 'Capricious', while tracks 7 to 14 form 'Electronic Forest Suite 2'
Electronic Forest Suite 1
Electronic Forest Suite 2
Well, at the end of this journey
you know you've listened to one of the best ambient albums ever released.
Mathhew and friends have for over an hour taken you into their picture
of the Electronic Forest. You have been totally immersed in the most atmospheric
musical description, drifted away into their world of tones and drones.
Records, PO BOX 152, PORTISHEAD, BRISTOL, BS20 7WD