White Rainbow, a.k.a. VVRSSNN, a.k.a. multi-media artist Adam Forkner, gets
around and has friends in high places. In the last several years alone, he's
played on albums by Little Wings, Devendra Banhart, Jackie-O Motherfucker, and
Dirty Projectors, to name a few. If this array of artists wants his talent as
both a player and a producer, he must be some sort of musical savant genius,
right? The concept for his recent outing as White Rainbow is intriguing to say
the least. It's not a love song (in fact, there's nary a trace of a song on the
whole album), but an audio love letter, made with no stylistic expectations or
motivation other than new love. What comes out is an understated tour de force,
with Forkner sounding humble and restrained as opposed to shouting out his love
from rooftops. Its ambient cries of togetherness are formless and void of
structure, with pieces ranging from 5 to 20-minutes in length (yet it seems
completely arbitrary as to why some are long and some are short). Warm synths
and reverbed-out layers of guitar pave a solid foundation for drum loops, vocal
tracks, and various other instruments to weave in and out of at their own pace.
Although it's a fairly one-note theme throughout the album, ZOME never
sounds hesitant, and these four directionless pieces do convey raw emotion and
the sense of young love.
The opening track "Guilded Golden Ladies" is the closest thing to a traditional
song, with barely audible and vulnerable sounding vocals comparing how he used
to feel to how he feels now. His simple vocal melody is overshadowed by Sigur
Rós-like guitar swells and hypnotizing percussion. Both the title track and "How
High A Ridge..." are textural studies that could've easily fit on Last Visible
Dog's Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box compilation that came out last year.
Unlike ambient works that are often cold and void of emotion, these two pieces
are warm and inviting like a lover's embrace (hopefully your lover isn't cold
and emotionless). Whether his title is a coincidence or not, "Germany," the
shortest track on the album, takes after the beat-driven Krautrock of Neu! and
His aural love letter is brilliant in theory, but perhaps it was never meant for
the world to hear. Actually, it never was meant for us to hear. Recorded while
on tour in 2003, ZOME was made specifically for Forkner's then new lover,
Honey Owens, with no hopes of anyone else finding meaning in it. Fast forward
three years and he has now made his love letter available to the public. Maybe
he's more comfortable in his relationship now, or maybe he's decided that it's a
beautiful piece of music that a lot of folks could get something out of.
Although Adam Forkner is full of love and great sonic tapestries, ZOME is
somewhat unfulfilling without the relationship to accompany it.
It's not usually the business of Tiny Mix Tapes to critique people's private
love letters, but that's the task at hand here. Since so many pop songs are
fueled by spellbound, naïve lyrics about loving someone or being hurt by a
lover, we should actually be pretty good at critiquing these strange
testimonials of the human condition. So, starting tomorrow, feel free to send
your most private love letters to us for review. Feeling uncomfortable? Eh
hem... would you publish a book of your love letters?
1. Guilded Golden Ladies
2. How High A Ridge I Could Not Tell (Song for Eugene Levy)