After Geography (Wormhole Records)
American composer Francisco Dominguez aka Forest Robots makes nature-inspired ambient music, but there aren’t many experimental nature-inspired albums like After Geography. It’s a hushed landscape of plinks and plonks and occasional melody lines, some played on marimba or xylophone, cast upon a bed gentle washes and atmospheres. What makes it special is the weird tunings. I asked him about this, wondering if he was using just intonation or similar kinds of tunings found in non-Western music. Not so, he says. It’s more about the unpredictability of filters and effects. “Much of the process is thought out beforehand, but I still end up about half the time with a trial and error dynamic as the harmonics sometimes don’t quite hold up like I originally thought they would.” Most great art comes from a mixture of hard work and happy accidents, and that’s the case here. The overall effect on After Geography is an unpredictability, a landscape in constant motion, unusual for music so quiet. Also: the artwork by Brayden Wood gets my vote for album cover of the year.