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Deep Forest – Essence of the Forest

I vividly recall when Deep Forest’s first hit, “Sweet Lullaby,” first poured into my ears, a beguiling hybrid of spacious ambient house and verdant pygmy chants and throat singing, an oddly intimate and organic music tickling something familiar in an atavistic corner of my brain.

The entire ’92 Deep Forest album, the work of a pair of Frenchmen (classically-trained musician Michel Sanchez, house music producer Eric Mouquet) and Belgian producer Dan Lacksman, was woven from threads of pygmy source music from Zaire and the Central African Republic (sampled from archival vinyl) imaginatively augmented with atmospheric electronics, melodic keyboard flourishes, and nocturnal beats, an enveloping “world beat” music, the success of which launched an armada of lesser new age imitators.

Twelve years and four more albums later Deep Forest has a collection out on Epic/Legacy, Essence of the Forest, and while the first penetration into hte Forest is still the deepest (represented here by remixes of “Sweet Lullaby” “NIght Bird” and Desert Walk”), unlike other “high concept” units, Deep Forest has continued to make inventive, surprising, and daring use of the indiginous-electronics formula, turning their attention to Eastern Europe for the second album, Boheme (their second hit “Marta’s Song” featured the great Hungarian singer Marta Sebestyen), turning up the heat a bit with Latin and Caribbean rhythms on Comparsa, and an odd hybrid of Japan and the American South (which works on “Dignity,” less so on “Yuki Song”) for Music Detected.

It never feels rote, and Sanchez/Mouquet, much to their credit, seem to care as much about execution as about concept – the forest remains deep and worth exploring.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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