AMN Reviews: Forrest Fang – Scenes from a Ghost Train (2018; Projekt)

Forrest Fang falls squarely into the camp of U.S.-based ambient / electronic musicians (also including Steve Roach, Robert Rich, and Michael Stearns among others) who were influenced by the Berlin school, but bring their own unique takes to the genre. Case in point, on the nine tracks of Scenes from a Ghost Train, Fang combines gently layered drones, slow-moving piano themes, and violin, as well as subtle Eastern string, wind, and percussive elements.

Fang alternates between uptempo pieces driven by multi-tracked percussion and more introspective, minimalist approaches. But even in the latter, there is an abundance of individually-evolving themes. Fang’s restlessness shows throughout, as these quieter tracks are anything but simplistic. But he shines the brightest when combining his influences into an amalgam of atmosphere, melody, and ethnic mysticism. Ultimately, the acoustic and the electronic aspects of Scenes from a Ghost Train blend into a seamless continuum.  This allows the album to have a broad appeal including to those interested in synth-driven music in general as well as others who seek out rich, detailed soundscapes.

With the prevalence of dark ambient, aggressive electronics, and harsh noise walls (all of which have their own allure), it is nice to hear a new release from one of the originators of the genre that was a forbearer thereto. Established fans will find much to like here, and for others Scenes from a Ghost Train is a great place to begin exploration of Fang’s discography.