Interesting things happen when worlds collide. Sometimes the results are catastrophic and earth-shattering, sometimes they are unexpectedly compatible and beautiful. Forest Robots has always fallen into the latter category and this new album of electronic music used to describe the majesty of the natural world is no exception. Continuing where Super Moon Moonlight left off Timberline and Mountain Crest continues its mission to describe the world beyond the man-made in sweeping synth instrumentals, electro-classical grandeur and technological soundscapes.
A message can be a powerful thing, connecting and resonating far beyond its intended destination. And so this debut album from Forest Robots may have started as a love letter to the daughter of the man behind the music but now it is out in the wider world it is sure to reach and effect a new swathe of listeners. It is an album which uses orchestral sweeps, synthesised instrumental layers, electronic textures and skittering dance beats to create its soundscape, one designed to reflect on the beauty and delicate harmony of the world around us.
Even the titles evoke the majesty of our natural surroundings, Shapes Shift in The Distant Shadows explores the dark corners of the outside world, a shaded and brooding piece but one driven by a vibrant beat and While Birds Dream of Dawn and Wind reminds us that the world is populated by myriad creatures all with their own instinct and thoughts. Do birds dream of the early light and a wind that will carry them to new climes? I like to think so. My favourite is Mandlebrots in Winter, perhaps a reminder of the ultimate complexity, circles within circles, of the world at large.
Super Moon Moonlight is less about individual song and more a suite of musical pictures and is best treated as such. Whilst any individual track can be taken on its own, this record is much more than the sum of its parts, a reflection of the world around us, a majestic sonic re-interpretation of the yet unspoilt beauty of our world and a prayer that it remains so.
Music too is a powerful tool and this suite of delicate yet potent moods and thoughts is perfect to induce thoughts about the damage we do to our home planet. It seems at a time when man is ever more driven by his own desires and material needs and the considerations for the havoc we reek less and less important, this meditative piece couldn’t have arrived at a better suited juncture.
Not all music has to make a big impact or get right on with the job straight away. Sometimes the most effective musical communication is all about reserve and understatement, about taking your time and working with slow, gradual build ups, space and minimalism. What they used to call the “less is more” approach. If you are a fan of this angle of attack then the wonderfully named Times When I Know You Will Watch The Sky Pt. I is a song that you will warm to.
This chiming, electro instrumental is all about delicacy and restraint. It spends the first 30 seconds gathering shimmering sounds and then slowly expands on them, but never excessively, never gratuitously. Instead the overall effect is like the first drops of rain coming down followed by a steady strengthening of precipitation. And rain seems like a good parallel to use as the whole song feels somehow transient and ephemeral, a musical mood rather than a song. And this strange and beguiling quality is what brilliantly sets it apart from the makers of more obvious music. Strangeness is good, especially when it is this beautiful.