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Forrest Fang & Carl Weingarten - Invisibility

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Artist: Forrest Fang & Carl Weingarten

Album: Invisibility

Label: The Foundry

Review date: Nov. 12, 2006

Composer/instrumentalist Forrest Fang has a gift for constructing polished, diaphanous sound-fields that, while remaining tonally consonant and quite lovely, display an engagingly complex sense of depth and distance. Slide guitarist Carl Weingarten makes a good match with Fang, as his approach too suggests a burnished elegance, and he adds to the collaboration an epigrammatic lyricism. Listening to these works one might imagine Weingarten's variously treated guitars - sometimes shimmering, sometimes darkly distorted - as a human voice or figure moving within the massive, transparent landscapes Fang conjures with electronics and traditional Asian instruments.

The most compelling pieces here seem to be those where the relief between these two elements is most noticeable. “Freezing Days” opens the disc like an ambient echo of Charles Ives’s “The Unanswered Question,” with Weingarten’s spaciously reverbed and delayed guitars looped into insistent, yearning phrases that repeat and shift subtly within Fang’s shimmering and sensuous textures. “Hidden Cove” manifests, in the noble tradition of Brian Eno’s On Land, an imaginary shoreline, with Fang’s watery sounds moving and morphing, while Weingarten’s guitar sings and slides with cetacean moans. “The Land of Invisibility” is quietly arresting, as Weingarten’s guitar, saturated with lush and tactile distortion and rising from Fang’s deep and enigmatic well of sound-wash, seems to drip with a strange, secret, and ultimately unknowable emotion.

Precursors to this record are the aforementioned On Land, and, of course, the paradigm-shifting 1970s Fripp and Eno collaborations. The hi-res yet still-mysterious sonics of deep-ambient masters Robert Rich and Steve Roach seem to be touchstones as well. (Rich, it might be noted, actually mastered Invisibility.) In following the paths of previous inventors here, Fang and Weingarten do not obviously innovate or break new ground. But one should not slight their abilities to imagine and evoke: Each piece on Invisibility offers satisfying riches and surprises. Like all good painters, Fang and Weingarten bring new colors and perspectives to bear upon what they view and render, thus transforming perceptions and shifting illuminations, bringing forth new and alluring horizons.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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