review on DPRP.net

Just found this one on the net:

Forest Field – Pioneers of the Future

forest field - pioneers of the futureThis is an interesting one. Firstly it’s not a band, it’s a project by Chinawhite guitarist Peter Cox who plays pretty much everything that’s on the disc. describing this as Ambient progressive rock, The album is conceptual in that it places seven instrumental tracks (one to represent each day of the week) with six vocals tracks that are all thematically linked to the concept of “Time” and especially whether we are prisoners of the past or pioneers of the future. So a nice light concept then, eh?! So lets commence…

I’m not at all familiar with Chinawhite, the band that is Peter’s normal musical vehicle, so I come to this disc free of any opinions and am keen as always to give the music fair chance to reveal its magic. I like the idea of how the album is balanced mixing instrumentals and vocal pieces making for an interesting listen, however it does also break up the flow of the album a little in that styles and approaches differ between them, with a lighter gentler (more ambient even) instrumental being followed by a harder sounding song. In truth this isn’t as “Ambient” as it proclaims, in fact in parts it is quite an intense and heavy album with a fairly dense sound (more about this later).

The opening instrumental Too Many Mondays is simply atmospheric keyboards which gently leads you into Imaginary Queens which opens with a bass riff and some spacey keyboard beeps before Peter’s arpeggio guitar lines come in with a very “European Rock” styled voice (nothing wrong with that either may I add). This leads into a brief solo from Peter and the song wouldn’t sound out of place on many modern rock albums to be honest. Tuesday I Think opens with more synth washes and an understated piano before bass joins in playing melodically in a slower paced piece that is actually quite effective overall. Phoenix for the Sunrise follows, opening with sequenced keyboards and bass before the vocals come in which aren’t the greatest in the world but they fit the song fine, the middle instrumental section is however very melodious and interesting although the mix could do with being clearer and less cluttered as it all sounds a bit murky at times. The song features another fine Peter Cox solo and overall this is pretty good. Wonderful Wednesday is another short instrumental but the sound is somewhat distorted which spoils the ambience of the gentle acoustic guitar being played over supporting keyboards. Set Me Free is up next, another vocal piece opening with some bass and drum work before a jangly guitar joins in. Phil Vincent is singing on this one and it’s a good performance all round as the song has a groove to it that works well, in fact this is one of my favourite pieces on the disc. It has a good chorus as well. Thursday Thunder is a mixture of piano and keyboards but set against soaring guitar lines, again pretty short and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

 

Looking for Someone opens with organ and acoustic guitars, Peter Cox is singing on this and he doesn’t have the voice to match his guitar skills, which on this track are pretty fiery. There is a lot of riffing going on here and his vocals are somewhat buried in the mix but there is a nice harmony solo on this one though. Freaky Friday mixes guitar driven melody with keyboard washes and a bass solo which is over the top and not outstanding but listenable. Time opens with what sounds like a Theramin against heavy riffing guitars and keyboards before Phil Vincent’s vocals come in. Again this is pretty much European hard rock with a similar style vocal. The chorus is strong and melodic though and the song features a good middle eight and bridge segment plus an elegant guitar break towards the end making it one of the more varied tracks on offer here. Lazy Saturday Swim is the penultimate instrumental track and it is pretty ambient really, in fact not a great deal happens but it’s still a good piece. Places Never Seen is the last vocal track and this time the vocals are from Aukje and Joris Peeters. It’s a mid-paced song with lots of arpeggio guitar and a suitably histrionic guitar break at the 3:00 minute mark.

It’s not a great song nor is it entirely bad, it’s just that it sounds too cluttered to these ears. In fact, if there’s one thing that stops this album being better it’s the production which is simply not very clear or distinct and there is insufficient separation between the instruments. This is a shame as it mars some otherwise worthy material that Forest Field have presented. Music of this genre should have space to expand and not be buried in a muddy and murky mix – obviously I realise that there are probably limitations and constraints on the ability of Forest Field to create the sort of soundscape that would make this album so much better. The final instrumental, Serious Sunday brings the disc to a suitable conclusion, playing out with piano and soft keyboards.

So there you have it. I did enjoy this album but I do have reservations about it, especially sonically, but there are some great passages and ideas here and Peter Cox is to be applauded for his efforts. Maybe the next release will be sonically enhanced and therefore better. It is a bit of a European hard rock album and it’s not terrifically ambient but it is certainly worth a listen and making your own mind up about.

Conclusion: 6 out of 10

JOHN WENLOCK-SMITH

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Thank you John!

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