CD Review

Forbidden to Know – “Obscurity”

By Marcus Pan

ObscurityFound on the one page press kit of Forbidden to Know: "I like listening to my own music that is what matters." This is a nice failsafe, because if or when he gets a bad review – and I really don't know which way I'm going with this write-up just yet – he can tell us that we just "don't get it," and "that's ok it was for me." Which is nice...I certainly don't begrudge people from making something that they want to listen to instead of what's already there.

I do it myself sometimes. I use it...sometimes I walk down the hallway and sing reminders to myself. "Don't forget...doop boop a doop...to pick up the fax...doop boop a doop...etc." When I'm warming up on bass I'll tap out some E string and A string riffs. Womp womp womp. It's for me. But I'm not going to record it...I won't go ahead and press it to CD and market it and put it up for sale. Who wants to listen to a mediocre bassist warming up or some goofball singing about things so he don't forget? It's only interesting to me.

So I certainly don't begrudge people from making something they want to listen to. But I take issue when they press it down, ship it out and try and get people to buy it. Forbidden to Know's Obscurity is dark progressive ambient, with windy backgrounds, grubby make-up, time shifts and disjointed tinklings. It's like Fantomas(1) with a really bad hair day. But is it good? Was pressing it down and putting up for sale at CD Baby something that should have been done here?

Well, that depends on you. Some people dig dark ambient and noisy backgrounds. Some people even dig people gargling into mic pickups with Listerine while farting. It's all up to you. Seventy five minutes of this is quite a lot, really...scraping the bottom of my desk can take the place of a lot of the disjointed, nearly twelve minute They for example. Sit down to a bowl of beans prior, and I have a similar crescendo of orchestration as I toot and tap away. Don't record poop and call it "music." If you like listening to unrelated sounds, yahoo for you. But if it comes to my desk on a CD, it better damn well be music.

But fortunately Obscurity isn't all tooting and tapping. Fearless, for example, opens a nice comfortable minimal synth progression. High pitched, joined by a comfortable percussive rhythm – now we see the difference between recording random bits of shite and actually creating something to record. The samples of a childlike voice actually adds a feeling of melancholy and sadness to Fearless, which makes this track interesting if only for the juxtaposition between the name of the track and the sound of the track. Fearless is a good track – excruciatingly long (and could have done without the growling which steals from its sweetness somehow), but a good track. There's some hope...

Souls starts with a key opening that is...amateurish at best. It's the ambient equivalent of the 12 year old playing Chopsticks on the family piano. Similar to my "warm-up" analogy from before. Thumbs down. The Fallen is similar to Fearless, a bit more darker and disjointed, almost demonic in places. Thumbs up...at least until it dissolves into uninteresting Listerine gargling at the end. Lost's spoken word on a helicopter background is...strange and unusual. Experiments with vocal voxing and tampering become heavy as we proceed and, unfortunately, without much merit. Most layed over top of what, if left alone, could be well done ambient work.

So there it is...kind of sitting on the fence on this one. There's some really good dark ambient here – and some really bad personal stuff that I assume is interesting to Forbidden to Know on their level much like my boorish warm-ups. It's like Russian Roulette. If you're up for a bit of risk and gambling, go for it.

Contact Information:
Forbidden to Know
Post: PO Box 81, Hampton, CT, 06247, USA
Web: www.geocities.com/forbbidentoknow
(1) Recently reviewed: Fantomas’ Suspended Animation.