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Forest - Forest/Full Circle CD (album) cover

FOREST/FULL CIRCLE

Forest

 

Prog Folk

3.08 | 5 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars More psychedelic than progressive, Forest's only two albums fairly reek of the late 1960s back to nature acoustic hippy innocence. While they were generally considered followers and imitators of the Incredible String Band, when in fact they were considered at all, they were not quite as "out there", for better or worse. In my opinion they better captured the barefoot adventurousness of the era by mostly avoiding the smarminess that plagued the ISB. They were all multi-instrumentalists who generally focused on songwriting and arranging rather than playing for the sake of it. While I played this for someone who thought the production dreadful, it doesn't bother me in the least.

The debut establishes a style that does not change much over the band's short career - simple folky melodies with twists and dissonance galore, sometimes more than is beneficial. In fact at times it seems Forest doesn't know whether they want to be organic or intellectual, but where they succeed in bridging the two approaches, they succeed brilliantly, as in the triple whammy of "Sylvie", "A Fantasy You" and "A Fading Light". The failures are not so much embarrassing as unengaging, and include the last few songs on the disk. But I suspect that every Forest fan has a different view of what works and what doesn't.

"Full Circle" is somewhat less obtuse and stronger, and starts with one of Forest's most straightforward tunes, "Hawk the Hawker", which recalls Dylan's lengthy expositions but in abbreviated form. "Bluebell Dance" is totally different, a mysterious pagan ritual which, along with "Fading Light" off the debut, is my favourite Forest song. These guys knew how to create a million dollar atmosphere with pennies. "Gypsy Girl and Rambleaway" is another story resting on a strong well played melody. "Graveyard" is another triumph of mood and setting, resting on a backing of wistful whistles that at times sound like piano accompaniment. As with the first album, several songs show promise but suffer from stunted development or lack of follow through, in particular "Do Not Walk in the Rain" and "Much Ado about Nothing", and especially the interminable "Autumn Childhood".

This double CD captures the mood of the times, but its acoustic orientation saves it from anything approaching irrelevance. Well worth checking out if spending time in the forest of very English psychedelic folk rock is your thing, and isn't it everyone's?

kenethlevine | 3/5 |

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