New one on Kranky looks, from the outside, somewhere between a new Pallbearer record and some psych venture -- in reality it's an ambient behemoth, sprawling its Kosmische excursions over a double album that sounds like Harold Budd partnering up with Steve Hauschildt in a three-legged drone race. On this record Forma add artist and musician John Also Bennett to their roster, who most recently offered up a remix for Christina Vantzou's latest record. This record is a tale of two stories, choosing to build a bridge between modular experiments and neo-classical composition. Less techno, more thoughtful slumber.
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I’ve eaten a lot of vegetarian scotch eggs today and I’m ready to do it: I’m ready to make one of Phil’s coveted Music Is A Lot Like Food analogies. Forma, they’re a lovely proposition of ambient, but with a kosmische coating that invites melody, rhythm and a general spinning of the musical axis. The drones, and the neo-classical beauty contained within, is that egg at the centre; the rest is a fine thick coating of veggie scotch. I am an advert for Quorn, but I am also a very serious reviewer. Please listen to me.
This new Forma LP is entitled ‘Physicalist’ -- perhaps as a joke about its airy psychedelic haze -- and sees musician and artist John Also Bennett join the band, all so that they can make the ambient behemoth they’ve always dreamed of. As a trio of synth boys, pianists and flautists, they create a record that has as much to do with Neu! as Harold Budd, moving seamlessly between bouncy programmed drums to looping melodies. Occasionally, the synths are used both to establish a rhythm and also to flare up the senses, with disappearing and repeating hooks straddling the fine line between a real catchy thing you want to hear again and a phone alarm you want to throw out of your window -- an early case in point is the shimmering melody of “Spin Glass”.
The drums are programmed, but they’re in charge: on a tune like “Ghosts”, they combine with a settling bass line to dictate proceedings, the songs other hues sounding remote and disjointed like little dots in a skyline. As the record goes on, the canvas opens up a bit, and gorgeous landscape sweeps like “Descent” come in, extending radius to diameter with synth lines bold and omniscient. In fact, it’s the second half of the record that feels like the real triumph, its tunes patient and pastoral amidst the disciplines of kosmische. Come on guys -- take me with you to your vineyard on that abandoned planet.
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