Last year’s Forest Robots album, After Geography, made it into my top ten Xs Noize albums of the year list. A beautiful slice of electronic dreamscapes, emotive, imaginative and blissful. In Spring (2021), Forest Robots released his wistful follow-up album, Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning. An album full of delicate minimalist, jazzy ambient soundscapes exploring themes of nature and spirituality. 2021 has been a pleasingly productive time for Forest Robots; there’s another album coming out on Elm Records called Horst and Graben.
Forest Robots is the Californian based electronic music composer Fran Dominguez. He started the Forest Robots project as “a love letter to my daughter about the wonder’s of nature.” On his 6th album, Horst and Graben Dominguez takes his influence from the stories of the David George Haskell book “The Songs Of Trees.” One imagines, from his love for mountaineering as Horst and Graben, a geology term that refers to regions that lie between normal faults and are either higher or lower than the area beyond the faults.
The influence of Haskell's writing comes flooding out in the wonderfully descriptive song titles. For example, the opening composition, “As Every Crevice In The Woods Waits Patiently For Sunrise” or the albums closing number “, In The Aftermath Of Rain No Grain Of Sand Remains Unstirred”, wets the appetite and enhances the ambient soundscapes they describe.
Horst and Graben consists of ten electronic, neo-classical, ambient compositions, expertly constructed around deceptively simple, fragile musical themes. They carry the listener away into a world of colourful dreams. A world teeming with delicate, emotive, joyous, often uplifting soundscapes. Occasionally drifting tenderly into a more melancholic, whimsical, airy haze. Melodies are exquisitely intricate, frail and dainty at times and bright, vivid and courageously ear-catching in other passengers. In places, Dominguez slips into an almost Drone sound before a piano melody pushes the song forward.
There is a touch of the late 1970s to the soundscapes. A whiff of Bowie, a nod to the experimentalism of Michael Rother and a big wave to the influence of Brian Eno. These Titans are worn well and include the 12K record label founder, Taylor Deupree, who expertly takes on the mastering duties.
Horst And Graben is a superb collection of mystical and spiritual adventures into experimental ambient music. On a decent pair of headphones, the listener is lost in Forest Robots romantic world. The music isn’t going to make you dance, but it will make you dream.