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About Forrest Fang
Chinese-American multi-instrumentalist Forrest Fang combines atmospheric electronic textures with a wide array of acoustic instruments, particularly those of non-Western origin, resulting in an otherworldly form of ambient music that is equally haunting and serene. His music is especially influenced by Javanese gamelan as well as Chinese classical music, utilizing polyrhythmic percussion and gongs as well as stringed instruments such as zither, lute, and violin. Independently releasing music since the early 1980s, Fang began reaching a larger audience of ambient and world music listeners with releases such as 1989's The Wolf at the Ruins. Since the 1990s, he has collaborated extensively with ambient veteran Robert Rich as well as guitarist Carl Weingarten. Beginning with 2000's Gongland, much of Fang's material has been released by ethereal/ambient label Projekt, including 2011's Unbound (credited to his minimalist side project Sans Serif) and 2019's The Fata Morgana Dream.
Forrest Fang's first instrument was the violin. In 1980-1981 he studied electronic music, composition, and jazz improvisation at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. At the same time, he learned to fiddle at regional fiddling festivals and gained an appreciation for stringed instruments such as the mandolin and mandola. Fang's first records, beginning with the privately pressed 1980 LP Music from the Blackboard Jungle, were rooted in electronic music and progressive rock. His study of Chinese classical music, with zheng (Chinese zither) player Zhang Yan, from mainland China, led to a stylistic shift that was evident on his fourth release, The Wolf at the Ruins (1989).
After 1991, Fang studied gagaku (ancient Japanese court music) with imperial court musician Suenobu Togi and gamelan with Balinese composer I Wayan Sujana. In 1993, he composed music for a Balinese shadow theater production of In Zanadu, which was awarded a Citation of Excellence from the International Puppetry Association. Some of this material was rearranged and adapted for his sixth release, 1995's Folklore. He also appeared on Robert Rich's album Seven Veils. Fang's solo releases continued with The Blind Messenger in 1997 and Gongland in September 2000. He reunited with Rich for 2001's Bestiary and 2003's Temple of the Invisible, then teamed with guitarist Carl Weingarten for 2006's Invisibility.
Fang returned to his solo career with 2009's Phantoms, which took eight years to make and expanded on Gongland's gamelan inspirations. The following year, the Rich collaboration Ylang arrived, along with Hologramatron, an album with guitarist/composer Barry Cleveland. For the bulk of the 2010s, Fang focused on solo work. Following 2011's Unbound (under his Sans Serif side project), he issued Animism in 2012; Letters to the Farthest Star in 2015; and the double album The Sleepwalker's Ocean in 2016. For the following year's Following the Ether Sun, Fang took his expansive atmospheres and intricate rhythms in a more accessible direction. Scenes from a Ghost Train, inspired by urban folklore, appeared in 2018 and was followed by the elaborate The Fata Morgana Dream in 2019. ~ Jim Dorsch
- Los Angeles, CA
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