I remember the first time I heard Sigur Ros and their masterpiece Ágætis Byrjun. I felt like they captured the tundra of the Arctic, the vastness of Iceland and it seemed as if they weren't the sound of a band but what the ice, the wind and the water would say if it could talk to me. If you replace the ice, water and tundra that made up Ágætis Byrjun with trees, forest and swamp you would be presented with Prana by East Forest.
East Forest is made up of but one man called Trevor Oswalt who combines field recordings, piano, ambient soundscapes and vocalizations that are in no particular language on his latest. The songs on Prana are basically ambient pieces that are perfectly content sitting in a state of homeostasis that slowly mutates and transforms over time. What you won’t find on this album are drum sets (besides the occasional bass drum) or much percussion of any kind for that matter. This in no way has an adverse effect on the eight songs and in fact in my opinion enhances it.
The first track on the album is called “Apana” and contains warm reverberating bells and Oswalt’s voice which sounds angelic, spiritual and comforting. Subtle synths, shakers and eventually piano make their presence known as the you hear the nuances of the field recording in the background. “Prana” was probably my least favorite among the batch of exceptional pieces. It was little more than a piano and field recording. “Samana” hits all the right notes as the piano slowly spreads notes on your ears as if they were beds of understanding and peace. The eastern strings are a nice touch but his vocal work is still the component that is his mantelpiece. A serene landscape is created on “Udana” that shifts and transforms in the subtlest of ways. The last and longest song on the album is called “Vyana.” This track felt the most substantial as we get to hear some wonderful vocal harmonies from Oswalt and some harmonica as well. After listening to this album I felt more at peace with myself and wondered if this was what Henry Thoreau felt like when he was writing Walden. This is the type of album that can create a spiritual catharsis if given the right environment. The trees, the plants, the life and spirit that come from nature can be felt when you take a step into the East Forest.
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