Black Forest/Black Sea

Forcefields and Constellations

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Black Forest/Black Sea's 2003 self-titled debut took them in a direction away from the more song-oriented folk-psychedelia they'd played in the Iditarod. Forcefields and Constellations, their second effort under the Black Forest/Black Sea name, takes them yet further away, and further into improvised/ambient/experimental territory. At times this can be enchantingly eerie stuff, particularly when the overtones of instruments blend and bounce off of otherworldly distorted voices. At others, the structureless and sometimes dissonant ping-pongs between electronic swirls, voice, and clanging instruments can grate. About half of this was recorded live at various venues and radio stations, and perhaps that accounts at least in part for the less disciplined nature of much of the material. The duo seems better at pieces that are at least nominally attached to folkier settings and songs with vocals, such as the tone poem-like "These Things," where Miriam Goldberg sings with stirring ethereality against series of ringing, sustaining notes. There's some interesting potential in these kinds of combinations of folk, languorous songs, haunting classical-influenced melodies, and spontaneous electronic-laced adventurism, but the compositions aren't always a match for the ambitions at work.

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