Ryan York - If I Am This Forest
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Topanga Canyon, located in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles California has been home to an impressive list of famous names in music over the years including Neil Young, Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell and Jim Morrison to name a few. It is also the current home for NonProjects artist Ryan York, who also goes under the name Asura. If I Am This Forest is a bit of a surprise release, but a most welcome one, where York pays homage to his home deep in the canyon.
To say York is a busy man is something of an understatement. Currently working on a full length follow up to his excellent eponymous debut, a collaboration with Ana Caravelle as Gold and Soil, releasing the 'Zipperlegs' tape on Matthewdavid's Leaving Records label (also very good, definitely worth tracking down) a little while ago and providing string work for the new Zola Jesus record. That said, the psychedelic electronic collages of his debut album hinted at York's overflowing creativity and ability to morph this into an array of sounds.
Focusing on a more accessible vocal-layered sound, If I Am This Forest features gloriously constructed beat work, spiralling psychedelic electronics and effects. Laden with reverb, the blissful repeating vocal of the title track and skittering percussion encourage a shamanistic trance. Second track 'Sea Water' stands out, beginning with an ambient dispersion of light, before a simple wood hit beat - sounds Jon Hopkins or Four Tet may well be proud of - York unravels a multi-coloured fabric over the stop-start beat, adding pulsing bass and haunting vocals to create a magical piece of electronica; building into a dance-floor friendly freak out that he does so well.
As the Darkness (After the Crash) jangles with acoustic instrumentation in more repetitive jams, intricately woven drums expanding and contracting before the music box romanticism of final track 'Me and You'. It's distorted vocal whips reminiscent of Four Tet's 'Angel Echoes'. A beautiful ending to the EP, ten out of ten.
Released 13th September, 'If I Am This Forest' is available on limited hand-numbered 12" vinyl from NonProjects