Our Daily Bread 431: Forest Robots ‘Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning’

March 15, 2021

Album Review/Dominic Valvona

Forest Robots ‘Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning’
(Wormhole Records) 2nd April 2021

Approaching the most restless of times with the most intuitive and peaceable of contoured ambient imbued and mapped albums, the composer and cross-country explorer Fran Dominguez – under his chosen Forest Robots alias – is gaining much attention and acclaim for his empirical sonic suites.

Making our very own choice albums of the year features in 2020 with the settled mood music of After Geography, Dominguez invited us all to join him on a timeless like reflective and meditative trek across an awe-inspiring landscape; a mindful excursion of mountains and natural phenomenon that sought to offer a safe space away from all the tumult.

His latest ambient and neo-classical tinged opus is full of similar deep connective sanctuaries for the mind. Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning, we’re told, explores the themes of spirituality, existentialism and ethics and ‘how each relates to [the] experiences of parenthood’: A sort of Zen and the art of parenting meditation if you will. There’s much more of course to digest, and outlined in the PR spill, but that’s the basic gist. Dominguez articulates these concerns in a Taoist like sagacious state, with an album of gently unfurled and revealed emotional washes: some of which literally do wash over you.

Dominguez is inspired musically by Jon Hassell (a given I’d say), Gigi Masin (most certainly), and Weather Report (not so obvious), but mood wise specifically by such Jazz maestros as Coltrane and his Love Supreme game-changer, and Pharoah Sanders’ exploration towards shorter peregrinations, the iconic Thembi album. The sensibility of those jazz traverses may linger, maybe traced in the efflux of this record; there’s certainly a suffused if fleeted drift of light saxophone to be heard downplayed in the fizzy vapours and swirled square waves of ‘All Great Things Must Grow Through Dirt First’.

However, for the most part the oft melodious philosophically proposed quandaries flow between the ambient, neo-classical and afflatus. Beatific stained glass piped organ evokes those spiritual considerations on the marimba twinkled ‘A Church Is Religion, A Tree Is Spirituality’ for example, whilst the Bamboo music, mallet chiming ‘Sustenance Comes From The Roots, Not The Height’ has its own rays of veneration to share. Some suites truly do ascend towards the heavenly, like the accentuated flange-fanned guitar and serialism piano elegant ‘We Only Die Once, But Can Be Grateful Every New Day’. But the guiding light is a beautiful if sad, yearned and cerebral one.

Twinkled baubles, quivered elbowed and frayed strings, plucked mibra tangs, and what sounds like a rustic oboe are just some of the instruments and sounds used to evoke, stir up the emotions. They also (to these ears anyway) evoke certain geographical suggestions: from the Orient to Appalachians. Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning is something to both contemplate and wind down with, an articulation of both old tropes and the contemporary, handled with the most sublime of organic touches. Its every bit as rewarding and moving as After Geography, and will no doubt cement Dominguez’s reputation as one of the most creative and interesting ambient music visionaries of the past few years. Take some time out to immerse yourself in his brand of panoramic escapism.

See also…

Forest Robots ‘After Geography’

Choice Albums of 2020: Part Two

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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