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electronic forest (2002)

release info
Electronic Forest was recorded on november 11th 2001 by Matthew Florianz, Joris de Man and Erik t' Sas.

Tatiana Brainerd vocal for Capricious recorded on december 12th 2001.

Original release mastered by Joris de Man.

Bandcamp release August 5, 2022

   "... beauty and stillness embedded in (imaginary) landscapes ... "


dodds wiley

Recorded in a single afternoon in 2001, this recording captures three talented electronic musicians in an incredible zone. The spontaneous and improvisational nature of these 14 tracks provides an ambient space music experience of the highest order, and takes the listener on a mind expanding journey. Intricate compositions moving back and forth from light to dark, coupled with crisp production provide for superb listening.

Bold and majestic, this work often recalls some of the best space music of the seventies, but has little or no electronic percussion or sequencers. The sound is classic and elegant, but not derivative. Strongly recommended.

dene bebbington
wind and wire

The artists performing on Electronic Forest are new to me, I only wish I'd heard some of their recordings before because this is the kind of ambient music I'm getting increasingly enamoured with. This album is a great example of what I like to call immersion music as it works best when you can take time out just to immerse yourself in the music and let it suggest mental images consonant with the somewhat spooky sounds.

Fourteen tracks, most of which roll into each other but also have their own identity, make up the album which is split into two suites separated by the sixth track Capricious (incidentally, the only one to contain vocals). It's difficult to tell all the instruments that are used, I get the impression that synths have been complemented by some processed sounds and effects. Layers of drifting reverbing sounds coupled with background drones go together to create soundscapes with an emotional edginess to them. Mostly it's a case of textured, sometimes quite abstract, flowing sounds but on occasion there's also a subtle melody lurking in there too. One thing I particularly like about Electronic Forest is the way it combines the sensibilities of minimal drifting ambient with a good variety of sonic expressions and feelings. Consider something like Thom Brennan's work coupled with the more processed offerings of Diatonis and you'll have some idea of the style to expect from this album.

Capricious is for me the most interesting piece, though that's not to say the other tracks aren't interesting and good listening. Anyway, after some blistering effects it settles down to where drones form a background against which a piano plays hauntingly, and eventually ghostly female vocals (by Tatiana Brainerd) come and go. I couldn't help but imagine this track being the soundtrack to a scene in a film where someone walks through a large deserted house, possibly remembering times spent there in the past. It's a very atmospheric piece.

Electronic Forest is a great example of flowing and layered ambient music that takes the listener on a journey through mind and sound, offering a vision to this reviewer of a spooky forest partly distorted by fog. It skilfully walks the line between overt darkness or lightness; listening to it is like entering a dream state where some things are only fuzzily recognisable. Ambient fans should relish it.

jim brenholts

Electronic Forest is a set of laid out minimalism from Matthew Florianz, Erik t' Sas and Joris de Man. The evolution of this e-music style is actually quite interesting and quite universal. It is easy to take it all the way back to Brian Eno in the mid 1970ís but that is not the end. There are definite similarities to Brianís albums of that era.

There are, however, stronger similarities to Sonic Seasonings, by Wendy Carlos. Taking giant leaps forward, Steve Roach and Robert Rich have experimented with dark minimalism as have Mathias Grassow and Alio Die. Mike Griffin launched Hypnos in the mid 1990ís and the style flourishes to this day. This is one of the stronger efforts of this style. Matthew, Erik and Joris surround their drone with dark atmospheres, experimental sounds and subtle melodies. The soundscapes are totally organic and mystical. There are plenty of clues but no answers.

john sherwood

The first 50 copies of the album come with a bonus disc with extra material on it, this review however will concetrate on the the main Electronic Forest album itself. Packaging is somewhat simpler than GrijsGebied, being a normal CD jewel case with HS Recordings' trademark monochrome artwork. Perhaps this time to say that this is more of a normal HS release, than a uniquely packaged extravaganza like GrijGebied or OpenStage.

Anyway, what about the music. Well although there are separate tracks listed, the album is actually organised as two 'suites' of continuous tracks separated by a single track, so you get two long pieces, with a shorter piece in between. The tracks in the suites are seamless, flowing one into the next, sometimes so cleanly that you don't realised that the track has in fact changed. Tracks 1 to 5 form Electronic Forest Suite 1, track 6 is the single piece Capricious, while tracks 7 to 14 form Electronic Forest Suite 2

Electronic Forest Suite 1

Shards - Beginning with a background ambience, the track gradually takes shape out of the darkness, like a shadow appearing through the trees, then taking form as it approaches. Then the most glorious flute-pad tells you that it's started. Chirping things in the background add to the sylvan flavour, but then disappear, leaving the flutes to play in the glade.

Hidden - After a series of FM-like tones at the end of Shards it moves effortlessly into this track. Continuing the basic theme and atmosphere, the sound here is completely vast, like in some huge cave.

Fire - The intensity builds up and up, like flames reaching towards the sky, being reborn as new, always upward. Built on a huge wedge of string-sound, with other sounds and metallic edges searing in the heat, this is like a huge ever-burning fire that consumes the listener, strange yet immortal, feelings and power.

Shimmer - Taking the metallic theme as its basis, this now progresses into a shower of tiny particles, each reflecting the fire as it dies down.

Sand - The amazing atmosphere continues, now on a higher plane, as octaved strings flood the wash. This is a truly beautiful piece, in my opinion the best on the album.

Capricious - Night time, huge clang pianos, this could actually have been played in a huge cavern. Notes cascade out of the cave wall, like gushes of crystal water, splashing onto the rockfloor, cold, yet full of life. This track features the heavenly vocals of Tatiana Brainerd, neatly woven into the fabric of the music, maybe could be a little further forward, but still totally captivating, soothing against the hard piano, soft flesh against the rock wall.

Electronic Forest Suite 2

Ritual - Opening gently with a background drone, setting the scene, a short track to begin this second journey.

Magic - Building on the scene alreadt set, more elements drift in quietly, creating a dreamy atmosphere of short breaths and long shadows. The various parts interact, and create a truly magical feeling.

Undergrowth - As darker tones creep in, a feeling of unease begins to pervade the scene, like a black cloud has covered the sun. We are looking down below, into the darker realms of the forest, where strange and ugly creatures live in the gloom, where the dank roots and pale ferns press together, some looking for the light, other avoiding it.

Halo - Light break through, the light of heaven. We are lifted up into a beautiful glade, where love and peace are present, where the green carpet is illuminated by the light of life.

Life - Continuing the theme, but more airy, with superb string-pad sounds coming in, and whitenoise washes breaking like waves on a primeval seashore, while that first fish climbs out of the sea, and enters the forest.

Hunter - More ominous now, with the sharp percussive shots of the hunter's arrows reverberating, here some tinkling, now a twittering bird, the hunter is stealthy, only appearing when the time is right, then moving on.

Electronic Forest - The title track, starting with a feeling of trepidation, then building, with new layers coming in, gorgeous high-register synth sounds sweep around the soundfield. Distant string-pads shimmer in the background, while the drone pays the theme, then all fades away.

Smoke - Then it comes back from the near-silence, for a very quiet and short 'epilogue' track at the end. A sort of background ambience that swells up, then fades back into the blackness.

Well, at the end of this journey you know you've listened to one of the best ambient albums ever released. Matthew and friends have for over an hour taken you into their picture of the Electronic Forest. You have been totally immersed in the most atmospheric musical description, drifted away into their world of tones and drones. The album as a whole holds together much better than GrijsGebied, in that whereas that was a collection of related pieces, each track separate, this is a complete piece in itself, in fact it's easy to forget where you are in it, and you need the track number display to get you back in sync with the titles.

The main theme is there but very subdued, in that the album has a theme running through it, but it's more of an atmosphere than a melody, more of a feeling than a sequence. It is an evolution drawn in music and sounds, a sound-picture drawn from the pallette of ambient textures and softly played drifting notes. It takes you away into itself, the visual imagery it generates is striking, just let yourself float free into the music, close your eyes, and enter the Electronic Forest. It's a journey well worth making.

t.j. norris

Electronic Forest (Matthew Florianz, Joris de Man and Erik t' Sas) releases an orchestral ambient project that has a lightness of being. This one hour+ excursion is a multi-layered fusion of dark entries and smoky mazes. Having started the recording process in 2001, this young trio had many twists along the way before seeing their project surface.

But as it does it glides right alongside works by vidnaObmana, Robert Rich and Saul Stokes. Sand is one of those tracks that has a luminosity akin to floating above a mirror, suspended by its own reflection. This is clearly the type of work that is indicative of collaboration with filmmakers and others. Blending synths and guitars with other sound hybrids these guys have set out to make music evocative of late night suspense and early morning foggy ambiguity.

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