Let’s start by saying that Fran Dominguez aka Forest Robots compositional creativity is great, but his constant evolution makes him truly remarkable. Meticulous arrangements and powerful atmospheric atmospheres play roles of equal importance, on his latest 10 track project “Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning”, pushing the artistic chops of Forest Robots into the highest hemisphere of Ambient, Jazz, Orchestral, Folk, Drone, and Electronic music. In an album which explores themes of spirituality, existentialism, and ethics, and how each relates to the experience of parenthood amidst great global cultural change, exists a compelling definitude of accessibility and density.
What ties “Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning” together, is a musical structure as open-ended as it is painstakingly calculated. Forest Robots delivers each soundscape with impressive detail and evocative emotion, as he reaches his creative apex, on what is his fifth album. Here Fran compares different aspects of nature’s cycles to our own spiritual and philosophical cycles, and draws an analogous parallel between our external surroundings and our internal state of being.
Awe-inspiring is the fact that Forest Robots affronted these already complex themes, without the aid of words and voices, instead finding the perfect foundation in an epic instrumental canvas with which to articulate his vision. The sheer quantity of sounds, auras and moods flow like a series of deep meditations, resulting in a terrific piece of affecting art that deserves to be heard.
To execute such a complex yet singular set of aesthetics and narratives so convincingly, is rare, especially with such clarity of musical vision and technical expertise. The depth and intimacy of each track along, with the intricacy of its arrangement, will leave you totally engrossed and simultaneously bewildered.
Flooded with ideas, thoughts and feelings, the music somehow manages to remain at peace with itself, as Forest Robots succeeds in manipulating these many interconnected themes into shapes that remain coherent and soulfully expressive.
“As my daughter grows older and begins to ask questions of a more spiritual and philosophical nature, the experience of parenthood is becoming much more complex for myself,” explains Fran Dominguez. “The issue of religion versus spirituality as tools to guide her moral compass are at the forefront of my own personal journey to becoming a more competent moral guide. This album serves as a collection of tenets collected for her that are grounded on the idea that we reach a greater understanding of our own spirituality by observing the inner workings of our surroundings and our interconnectedness with them,” he concludes.
Forest Robots is deeply engrossed in these tracks, trying to capture and understand each fleeting nuance of the narratives, deciphering how to translate them, give them meaning, and how to best harness their power.
In the process he has uncovered great musical ideas in this record that creates a space to connect multiple genre flavors. You could listen to “Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning” ten times in a row, each time with a pen and paper, and still miss ideas, sounds and influences that are at the album’s core.
The track titles alone, are thoroughly thought out, ingenious in their conception, and immediately inspiring. Among them, “Sustenance Comes From The Roots, Not The Height”, “All Great Things Must Grow Through Dirt First”, “A Church Is Religion, A Tree Is Spirituality” and “A Weak Mind Will Never Defeat A Strong Soul”. This is an album of multiple representations, forging metaphoric, spiritual and material visions of the connection between interiority and exteriority.
“Amongst A Landscape Of Spiritual Reckoning” is officially out on all major digital platforms, via Emmasierra Songs and Wormhole World Records, on Friday April 2nd, 2021.