Adam Forkner - "[[[[VVRSSNN]]]]"
(K Records 2003, KLP145, CD/LP)
From Aural Innovations #24 (July 2003)
Pronounced "version", this is a solo effort from Yume Bitsu and Surface of Ecyeon guitarist Adam Forkner. But if you were expecting something along the lines of what those two bands play, youíll be in for a real surprise. Blending guitar, voice, synthesizer, and electronic percussion, Forkner creates a daring and innovative blend of Brian Eno influenced new age, pop, and techno music. And when I say "Brian Eno influenced", I donít mean any one particular Eno album. Forkner seems to draw on all of the styles through Enoís long career, then adds his own jazzy, dream pop leanings to the mix.
So on Double Dragons, the opening track, we get soft Music for Airports like choirs (a lovely vocal sound he returns to many times on the album) juxtaposed with a cute synth-line that borders on the amusingly kitschy, but is driven along by a frantic and incredibly varied percussion line. On Bruise Blood, Forkner sings in a lazy jazz-styled melody, while percussion and guitar pulses and throbs beneath his voice. On I Want to Warm You (I Need to Warn You), he goes acappella, layering his vocals with more of his vocals. On Invisible Wavez, he delves into spacious, airy ambient sound. And on Guilded Golden Ladies, he plays gentle, vaguely bluesy guitar. Though my favourite track on the album is easily the intense experimental dance of Coem Out, with its layered, distorted vocals and moody, slowly building sheets of space noise. It reminded me, again, a little of something from Enoís Nerve Net album, though updated for the 21st century.
My only complaint about the album is that Forkner has a tendency to use some very harshly distorted electronic percussion in places, which works well in the more upbeat pieces, but tends to slightly mar softer pieces like Surface III or Shield of Invisibility. But itís a minor complaint, because Forkner uses electronic percussion in some of the most creative ways Iíve ever heard. Not content to let it be just a rhythm track, he varies and alters it throughout till it becomes a distinctive instrumental voice of its own.
Donít get me wrong when I mention Enoís influence a lot. This is not an Eno album. While Forkner has drawn from some of Enoís styles, heís created a unique, challenging yet totally accessible album in ([[((VRRSION))]])))))) that sounds like little else Iíve heard.
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Contact via snail mail c/o Krecs; Box 7154; Olympia, WA 98507.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald