When I was I small child I would spend an unfeasible amount of my time lying on my back, watching the clouds drifting across the sky. I was hypnotized by the constantly moving, swirling patterns, the shapes, the colors, the shadows, the way the sun would illuminate the clouds edges. For the infant me, it was like a wonderful, magical dream. These remarkably beautiful formations, seemingly just out of reach, transfixed my imagination. This, may seem a incredibly indulgent, whimsical and irrelevant way to start an album review, but Forest Robots has created an album of ambient soundscapes that induces images and the similar feelings of wonder and awe and its impossible not to draw comparisons with simpler, uncomplicated times and emotions.
The Californian based Francisco Dominguez started Forest Robots as
a love letter to my daughter about the wonders of nature
And on his fourth studio album, “After Geography” the inspiration from the natural world is, as expected, forefront. However the album is also an attempt to address the current pandemic and social unrest and injustices. Dominguez writes
It is my intention with this album to provide a safe space for listeners to nurture their intuition and help them create the best approach to this crisis.
With this in mind, Forest Robots has crafted ten sparse, minimal, organic sounding, ambient, dreamscapes. The songs are piano based, touching on Modern Classical, Electronic Ambient and occasionally even Drone Ambient. The album as a whole fires the imagination and, like any decent soundscape it paints pictures and fosters emotions. The pictures on “After Geography” are meditative, reflective visions created from the gentle keyboard hooks and the occasional guitar hooks, underpinned by warm electric pads and the odd sets of synth strings.
The minimal sound allows the music to take the listener on little excursions. Memories of adventures traipsing though woodland, walks along rivers or lying on damp lawns watching the clouds sail by. The emotions “After Geography” generates are much more mixed. At times there’s a touch of melancholy and disappointment with even a tinge of sorrow. At other times it’s joyful, uplifting and even playful, but always there’s the feeling of quiet reflection and meditation.
Forest Robots fourth album certainly achieves its goal of creating a “safe place.” It is a stunningly beautiful, emotional and immersive listening experience. If you are after something to get the party started, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for something, reflective, to gently spark the imagination, then “After Geography” will steer you down the least trodden paths and may even rekindle memories and emotions of your long forgotten youth.