(Otherworldly Mystics, 2015)
There is only one place that comes to mind when the words “forest moon” enter the conversation, and that is the moon of Endor, from Return of the Jedi. I’m not suggesting that Inner Travels’s Phases of a Forest Moon is a song cycle about Endor – in fact, I’d suggest just the opposite. What Phases conjures instead of Imperial military outposts and patrols of armored biker scouts and stormtroopers is a beatific, serene environment, unprotected by invisible force fields surrounding it, and far from the minds of the universe’s great and powerful political mechanisms. In short, take all of the Star Wars stuff out of your head when listening to Phases of a Forest Moon, even the Ewoks (because they have gods and weapons and stuff), and picture instead the actual Earth moon beaming elegantly over an actual Earth forest. Stop making silly references.
So, then, imagine a time lapse of the phases of the moon over a month’s time, as seen from a clearing in the forest. This is the soundtrack to that event. S. Targo, aka Inner Travels, of Pell Lake, Wisconsin – which lies sort of between Chicago and Milwaukee, but about thirty miles further inland from Lake Michigan, almost due west of Kenosha – lives in a land I’ve only dreamed about, the Upper Midwest. (Well, I guess I’ve been to Minneapolis, so I imagine Pell Lake is at least in a similar ballpark climatewise.) Forests and lakes abound there (at least there are a lot of national forest notations on Google maps), so it should be expected that Targo feels a connection and wants to celebrate the natural beauty of his environs. He does that with a hefty bank of keyboards, synthesizers, and effects.
I do not want to understate how appropriate the music of Inner Travels is for moongazing, as the entire tape – from “Phase 1” to “Phase 8” – twinkles and shimmers in the night, blessed lullabies for tranquil meditation. Field recordings of running water, birdsong, and wind rustling branches enhances the sense of peaceful outdoors, far from humankind and the messy synthetic-ness of civilization. The whole tape is an ode to texture, to feel, with an eye and an ear toward the human interior. Hey, that makes sense – Targo calls his project Inner Travels after all! I probably subconsciously got that feeling from that now-obviously overt reference. Expand the mind!
Anyway, Inner Travels runs the ambient synth gamut from natural all the way to spacey to capture the effects of that time-lapse thing that I mention above, the one that’s playing on repeat in my mind as I listen to this tape. It’s gorgeous, like sitting beside a still pool at all times, immobile, for the entire 28-day lunar cycle. Imagine that. Imagine the peace, and the solitude. Imagine the changing weather patterns (clear for “Phase 2,” rainy by “Phase 8,” and everything in between), but without anything too rousing, lest the mood screech off the path like a needle off a record. Then close your eyes and live it, man, just live it. Let Inner Travels guide you mind to wherever it goes, under that constant moon.
That’s an entire month spent observing the moon, living with its phases. It’s worth the time spent out there. The music is remarkably dramatic in its restraint. Maybe a better cinematic touchstone is The Dark Crystal – this tape would fit perfectly over parts of that film. Or an old SNES Final Fantasy title. Much more so than over Return of the Jedi, which, we’ve already decided, is not what S. Targo is going for here. No battles. Just peace.
[Ed. note: S. Targo just wrote me a nice email about how I’m super wrong and Phases of a Forest Moon is indeed intended to be an ode to the native topography of Endor. Who’da thought.]
[Ed. note: UPDATE: I’m a totally lying liar about that Endor thing. Still nothing to do with Return of the Jedi. Carry on.]
RIYL: Opaline, Demonstration Synthesis, Portopia 81, Disasterpeace