Forrest Fang: The Wolf At The Ruins / Migration (2-CD)


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DISC 1-1989 | The Wolf at the Ruins
1. The Windmill 4:42
2. Passage and Ascent 11:47
3. The Luminous Crowd 6:24
4. Amelia 2:58
5. An Amulet and a Travelogue 23:58
6. Karina Waits At The Window 2:22
7. Silent Fields 7:12
8. Meditation* 5:23
9. A Quiet Place* 10:09

DISC 2-1986 | Migration
1. Invocation 1:14
2. Through A Glass Landing 6:43
3. Comfort 3:26
4. Koshi 3:27
5. Before Sunrise 2:54
6. Second Impression 1:16
7. Peru 3:12
8. Gradual Formation In Sand 7:20
9. Lowland Dream 5:04
10. Sleep 4:25
11. White Fences 3:03
12. Evening Song* 5:47
13. Arpeggiana* 2:30
* = Bonus Tracks, previously unreleased,
recorded during the sessions for these albums.

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Limited edition of 300 copies

“Fang’s compositional stylings applied to the genre of space music with exceptional results.” – Billboard

Projekt opens the archives to bring back two formative ambient works. Originally released in 1989 and 1986 respectively, The Wolf At The Ruins and Migration have been out of print for over 20 years. They’re from the period when Fang began his own fusion of electronics and traditional non-Western instruments into a modernist blend of electronics, ambient and world music. Re-released with two bonus tracks per album, and remastered by Robert Rich, this limited edition 2-CD reissue of 300 copies is the definitive way to experience Fang’s early visionary blend of space music, hypnotic minimalism and earthy polyrhythms with a Far Eastern bent.

Originally released on Fang’s cryptically named Ominous Thud label, these releases incorporate tape delay techniques first popularized by ambient pioneers Robert Fripp and Terry Riley, combined with a broadening palette of influences from non-Western folk music to ambient music to progressive rock.  The Wolf At The Ruins, released in 1989, was a particularly significant album for Fang that brought him to greater prominence with extensive airplay on nationally syndicated radio show such as Music From the Hearts of Space and Echoes.

“These albums were really a turning point for me, musically,” says Fang. “With my exposure to traditional Chinese music and other non-Western forms such as Balinese gamelan, I was seeing and hearing new colors and textures that seem to form their own sound and language, maybe just a bit beyond my grasp but close enough for me to preserve the essence of what I was experiencing.”

What reviewers have said about The Wolf At The Ruins:

The Wolf At The Ruins is an intriguing album that freely mixes space music with multifaceted ethnic colorings in a way that is sure to appeal to connoisseurs of experimental global music.” – Allmusic.com

“An oriental-occidental fantasy world of music is created—not new age nor background music, but something deeper, evocative and involved.” – Audion

“[Fang’s] release … confirms his stature … as being among the best American synthesists. However, Fang does not rely solely on electronics. [H]e works with traditional non-Western instruments and musical styles (especially those from his Chinese heritage), and processes them through contemporary technology and a more modernist approach …. Simply put, Fang has produced a gorgeous piece of work.” – Option

What reviewers have said about Migration:

“Dreamlike and meditative soundscapes.” – New Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock 

“Layered keyboards are the dominant instrument or repetition-based pieces reminiscent of Terry Riley and Mike Ratledge.” – Sound Choice

Re-release Date: August 13, 2013

Weight .3 lbs


Release Year



2-CD ecoWallet


  1. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Synth & Sequences

    The very first time I heard the music of Forrest Fang was with Animism, released by Projekt last year. I had been seduced quite enough to reattempt the experience. And it’s with the kind collaboration of Sam Rosenthal that I was able to put my hands on this very nice special 2 CD edition that several consider as major in the career of the Chinese-American multi-instrumentalist. Originally released in 1989 and 1986, in a limited edition of 1000 vinyl pressings on the Ominous Thud label, The Wolf at the Ruins and Migration are two albums which demonstrate the volubility of a feverish artist who refuses any forms of categorizations of his works. Works which redefine the abstract and ambient music horizons and which push away the borders of the traditional and tribal folk towards neo-classic territories where minimalist spirals and orchestral arrangements à la Philip Glass met some more seraphic and more meditative ambiences. The audacious New York label Projekt dusts the archives of Fang and confides the remastering of both old albums to Robert Rich who gives literally a second breath to these two albums which are now available in a beautiful 2 CD set which include 5 bonus tracks.

    This new edition begins with The Wolf at the Ruins. We are closer of acoustic aromas than pure electronic with “The Windmill” which makes sing the fragile notes of a Chinese lute of which the pinched chords engender a turbulent static dance into the soporific caresses of a crying violin. If the intro is of ambiences, the second part offers a delicious acoustic ballad which deviates towards a good harmonious duel where the clanic folk moods stun a tearful Chinese violin. This short track depicts all the universe of contrasts, both in tones and harmonies, which guide “The Wolf at the Ruins”. Between its ethereal atmospheres and its jerky rhythms, “Passage and Ascent” begins its contemplative trip with a thick cloud of synth pads of which the movements makes dance sonic prisms and makes resound some delicate gongs. Quietly, this ambient sound mass goes to a structure of rhythm which takes its source more jerked pads which juxtapose their breathlessness in a violent gleaming cascade. This curt and hatched rhythm is like as a violent static staccato and receives the caresses of a synth among which some pretty nice musical waltzing winds and breaths of trumpets which awake a bit of nostalgias for Patrick O’Hearn. It drives “Passage and Ascent” towards a port of tranquillity where are swirling some threatening twisted lines and oscillatory synth pads. It’s a brief moment of calm before the rhythm takes back its structure of Babel with cacophonous polyphases jerks, before finding peace in the carillons of meditative gongs. This duality between the clanic Eastern rhythms, the folk moods and the cacophonous escalation gives to “The Wolf at the Ruins” its so disturbing as puzzling charms.

    “The Luminous Crowd” is a beautiful invasion in the tribal rhythms with an array of instruments, among which some amazing percussions of mixed clan origins. Percussions which draw a kind of serene trance where are coupling string instruments, xylophones and Chinese violin weaver of dreams. If at first serene and smooth, the rhythm ploughs its fury after a brief meditative passage. And when I say fury, I rather make reference to this Babelian state of mind that surrounds the disorder of the rhythms which inevitably end to be knit together into an outstanding allegorical symbiosis. We love? The too short “Karina Waits at the Window” will know how to seduce you just as much. It’s rather special, just like “An Amulet and a Travelogue” which, after the very peaceful “Amelia”, makes us go by all the range of emotions. The intro is very filmic. There is a mixture of tension and passion which floats over the first 5 minutes. A soft ethereal melody accepts the melodious notes of an acoustic guitar, or a lute, whereas the rhythm livens up little by little while staying in a rather meditative frame. A tribal essence seizes of the peaceful atmospheres where Fang piles his tones in a dense ambiospherical shroud more noisy than ethereal with a doggedness to make his strings resound into a violence centralized in a closed vase. Then the title purifies its stormy noises to accept the soft riffs which ferret around with the gongs. And “An Amulet and a Travelogue” tergiversates between its ambiences and its crushed rhythms which are scattered on a structure among which the constant mutation of the sonic genes and the paradoxical atmospheres feed its ambiguity. “Silent Fields” doesn’t really need a presentation. It’s as much soft, as much ambient as its naming indicates it, with very slow musical synth waves which carry some delicate arpeggios to the magic powers. And the magic is this fusion of tones and voices which comes from it. It’s divine!

    “Meditation” and “A Quiet Place” are the bonus tracks on this new edition of The Wolf at the Ruins. If “Meditation” is a brook of prisms which sparkle with this blend of guitars of which the silvery tones sing in some dense iridescent colors synth lines, “A Quiet Place” is clearly more lyrical. More musical with breezes and voices of oracles which calm the turbulence of dark and a bit translucent winds.

    Released 3 years before, Migration offers a more esoteric vision of Forrest Fang. It’s a more acoustic and clearly more poetic album where we hear, we feel the structures of the Babelian rhythms that will explode in The Wolf at the Ruins, I think in particular of “Through a Glass Landing”, “Peru”, although very acoustic, to the very musical horizontal spirals strongly inspired by Philip Glass in “Gradual Formation in Sand” and “Second Impression”, finally to “Arpeggiana” which seems to have escaped from it. The suite is a collection of short music pieces with approaches as baroque as romantic. “Comfort” unwinds heavy and threatening layers of black organ before offering a delicate chimed lullaby. “Koshi” is a beautiful ballad sat astride by an acoustic guitar which looks constantly for explosion. Explosion that will come later by the violent “Peru”. “Before Sunrise” is a short ambient track with a pile of floating pads of which the oblong curves draw sonic furrows soaked by seraphic voices. This is rather intense, just like “Lowland Dream” and its carillons singing in vapors of flutes and trumpets. “Sleep” enclosed the first version of Migration with an intense ambient track which got loose from the contemplative momentums of “Before Sunrise”. “White Fences” is one of the 3 bonus tracks on this new “Migration”. It’s a beautiful lunar ballad, without rhythm but with many harmonies which remain suspended in time while that the very pensive and hyper melancholic “Evening Song” drags its piano notes into sibylline atmospheres. It’s very appealing and rather poignant at times.

    The Wolf at the Ruins / Migration is a nice initiative of Projekt which addresses to those for whom the music is a front door to a universe without borders. And there, you should not take the pejorative side of such a quotation, because the music is as much beautiful as it can be troubling. But all in all, we eventually end to appreciate the entire artistic dimension (and believe it, his vision is rather wide) of Forrest Fang. If I can draw a parallel, it would doubtless be with Vangelis and his album Earth because of the eclecticism and of the spirit of contemporary Bohemian which surrounds the personality of Fang and which spatters on its music. I recommend that you start with the small jewels of Migration, so The Wolf at the Ruins will become for you easier to tame. But if you love Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, you will be in pleasant company. -Sylvain Lupari

  2. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Ondarock

    Da qualche anno a questa parte, oltre a curare con la solita perizia le nuove uscite dei suoi alfieri e del sempre rinnovato parco di nuovi talenti in scuderia, la Projekt si è dilettata nella nobile pratica di rimasterizzare e rimettere in cirlcolo gemme provenienti dal passato dei suoi musicisti. Recentemente è toccato ai Trance To The Sun – con la decisiva partecipazione della Below Sea Level – ai Love Spirals Downwards, a Dirk Serries/vidmaObmana, a Erik Wøllo e in più riprese a Steve Roach. L’ultimo soggetto dell’opera di restauro di Sam Rosenthal è un altro dei nomi di punta del versante ambientale del suo catalogo: il veterano nonché capostipite del filone etnico dell’ambient music Forrest Fang.

    A finire sotto la lente di ingrandimento sono rispettivamente il terzo e il quarto lavoro del compositore sino-americano, Migration e The Wolf At The Ruins. Due album distanziati fra di loro di tre anni, in una routine temporale che si sarebbe ripetuta spesso nella carriera di Fang, dichiaratamente oppositore dell’ipertrofia discografica della gran parte dei suoi contemporanei. Seminale il primo, lungimirante il secondo, collocati su due dischi in ordine inverso rispetto a quello cronologico: tasselli fondamentali nei quali si consumano due step decisivi nella carriera del nostro, ovvero la maturazione tecnica e strumentale e il contatto con la tradizione folkloristica del suo paese d’origine.

    Migration, terzo album in carriera pubblicato nel 1986, è uno scrigno di esperimenti che mirano verso varie strade, molte delle quali non avrebbero poi avuto un seguito in futuro. Si tratta del primo disco a essere eseguito con una strumentazione estesa, novità grazie alla quale le trame elettroniche si intensificano e guadagnano corpo: l’estasi per piano sintetico di “Through A Glass Landing” ne è emblematica dimostrazione e congiunge i punti con le stasi minimaliste e il gusto cosmico dei due lavori precedenti. Se le brevi miniature di “Invocation”, “Second Impression” e “Arpeggiana” e la cavalcata “Gradual Formation In The Sand” si mantengono decisamente agganciate a grovigli cosmici non dissimili da Klaus Schulze e dai primi Popol Vuh, il drone solitario di “Before Sunrise” si mette invece in contatto con l’universo ambient che si stava sviluppando nel medesimo periodo in california (da Michael Stearns a Steve Roach).

    “Lowland Dream” compie invece il primo passo oltre, mirando nuovamente alle sinewaves fluttuanti di quel Structure From Silence uscito pochi mesi prima, ma abbinandole a tromba e tastiere cristalline in una sorta di ambient-fusion che troverà la sua via nella contaminazione world. I primi abbozzi di quest’ultima sono figli dell’esperienza con con Zhang Yan, un’autentica guru della cetra cinese, strumento che diverrà dagli album successivi onnipresente nelle tessiture strumentali di Fang: “Koshi” e “Peru” sono le prove generali di quello che diventerà elemento caratterizzante della musica di Fang negli anni a venire. A chiudere il cerchio, una serie di altre strade possibili messe alla prova e a dire il vero quasi tutte lasciate da parte, nonostante gli ottimi risultati: il duetto piano-tastiere in una “Evening Song” decisamente Buddiana, l’onirismo celestiale di “White Fences” e il carillon scintillante di “Comfort”.

    Decisamente più unitario, sintetico ed elaborato è The Wolf At The Ruins, il primo capolavoro della carriera di Forrest Fang nonché punto di partenza e coniazione del suo suono classico e, con tutta probabilità, insuperato vertice creativo della sua carriera. Il tessuto sonoro si inspessisce, l’elemento world si apre al dialogo con quello ambientale, i tempi si dilatano, il clima si fa decisamente più cupo e maestoso: il risultato più eclatante è “An Amulet And A Travelogue”, un viaggio di ventitré minuti attraverso una miriade di mondi e climi, dall’imponente apertura per violino e droni alle sfumature fluttuanti del finale, passando per il primo grande unisono di cetra e tastiere, un sorprendente passaggio rituale e un’esondazione in cui le percussioni arrivano a sostituire in toto i loop. È il paradigma di quello che l’arte di Fang rappresenterà da lì agli anni a venire, seguito a ruota dai dieci minuti abbondanti dell’inaugurale “Passage And Ascent”, trionfo di sovrastrutture sintetiche in crescendo, pronte a deflagrare sotto i colpi dei concitati arpeggi della cetra.

    L’elemento acustico non è però accantonato, e si ripresenta in solitaria nel duetto cetra-violino dello splendido prologo di “The Windmill”, nell’orientaleggiante “The Luminous Crowd” e nella danza di “Karina Waits At The Window”, guidata dalle percussioni: il tutto è però decisamente più elaborato e maturo sia emozionalmente che stilisticamente rispetto alle miniature di “Migrations”. Altrettanto interessante è “Amelia”, riuscito tentativo di disegnare un confine terreno alle distese spaziali dei pionieri californiani – rievocate invece nella loro componente più mansueta nel trittico di chiusura “Silent Fields”-“Meditation”-“A Quiet Place” – in una versione meno stratificata e più melodica, quasi alla ricerca di un corrispettivo ambientale della forma-canzone.

    Da questi due punti focali, la carriera di Forrest Fang si sarebbe poi sviluppata seguendo principalmente le coordinate dettate dal suo primo capolavoro e dalla parafrasi perfettamente rappresentativa di “An Amulet And A Travelogue”. Un percorso che ha portato alla definitiva fusione tra le forme più nobili dell’ambient sintetica e della world music, in grado di dettare i tempi a molti contemporanei e di non correre mai il rischio di scadere nella pericolosissima trappola dei manierismi new age. Un percorso seminale iniziato da un disco altrettanto seminale, che torna finalmente a risplendere assieme al suo predecessore a più di due decenni dalle stampe originali, limitate a mille copie e mai estese fino ad oggi. Rating: 8 (very good) -Matteo Meda

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