FAME Review: Forrest Smithson - Dreaming Time
Forrest Smithson - Dreaming Time

Dreaming Time

Forrest Smithson

Available from Forrest Smithson's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Man, do I ever love this kind of ambient music! One of the landmarks that made Forrest Smithson travel Dreaming Time in the direction he chose was Wendy Carlos' Sonic Seasonings, which decades ago laid myself and many an aficionado on our collective ear too. That release still stands as solidly in the catalogue of great electronic musics as the day it was issued. Then there was Eno and his Music for Airports and Discreet Music (Dreaming 1 & 2 here bears many of the latter's earmarks), the whole Berlin School thing (esp. early to mid-period Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze), and any number of works expanding the spacious canvas of cosmic wonders in numerous ways both explicit and subtle. Some even dared to found entire labels in pursuit of the sonic muse thuswise, Hypnos perhaps the most outstanding example. All of that is reflected well in this CD…but never overtly, always with consummate understated grace.

There are only four tracks, ranging from 15 to 25 minutes (so you're really getting two CDs in one) and each is a long, slow, beautifully layered exposition of undulating waves, incidentalistic paraphernalia, washes, dreams, subtle and sometimes familiar lifeforms, and various fascinating whatnots, all gathered together in what would likely, over in the classical realm, be called 'tone poems' or long 'gestures'. However, the compositions and recording are of such high quality that the enshrinement only increases the rarity of the artifact's saliences. In the old DIY days, Chuck van Zyl, Dana Rath, and a few others worked in this direction, mostly to great effect, others labored to uneven output (the Nightcrawlers, Trans-Millenium Consort, Mikey Stearns, etc.), and, a little too often, hasty individuals evoked themselves quite amateuristically. Those last two estates don't appear here at all, so put any otherwise wise fears to rest, o progfans.

Dreaming Time III and Dreaming Time IV are far more spare and laconic than Dreaming Time I and Dreaming Time II, IV being especially autumnal, melancholy, more adrift despite the intermittent muffled underscore of children playing somewhere, at a park or a beach perhaps. There's a Proustian sense of simultaneously cherished things and the knowledge of time and its effects. Dreaming is precisely the kind of disc you put on when feeling in that middle zone halfway between heavenly exhilaration and existential despair, the zone where zen attitudes dwell, or to go to sleep with philosophical thoughts floating above your head, matters to work themselves out within and outside your volition. More than that, though, it's just plain excellent as music qua music…if you've the intelligence and aesthetics to truly get into its post-Impressionist milieu. Not everyone does.

Track List:

  • Dreaming Time I
  • Dreaming Time II
  • Dreaming Time III
  • Dreaming Time IV
All compositions realized by Forrest Smithson.

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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