Fernwood | Sangita

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Official Fernwood Band Website Gayle Ellett's site Fernwood MySpace site Todd Montgomery's site

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United States - California - LA

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Folk: Progressive Folk World: World Fusion Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Sangita

by Fernwood

Acoustic World Chamber Americana music that blends sitars, Greek and Irish bouzoukis, guitars, dilrubas, mandolins, ouds, and more in a style that's pan-cultural, cinematic, rootsy yet luscious, an aural delight.
Genre: Folk: Progressive Folk
Release Date: 

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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
ALL MUSIC PLAYED BY HAND...
ON INSTRUMENTS MADE OUT OF WOOD!

Malibu, CA. —Fernwood, an all-acoustic instrumental group, today announces the release of their second album titled SANGITA.” Following on the heels of their widely heralded debut release ALMERIA. This new 12-track offering from the two multi-instrumentalists greatly expands upon their previous work. New instruments such as tenor banjo, North Indian dilruba and jal tarang, have found a home in their already diverse collection of world instruments. Gayle Ellett (Djam Karet) and Todd Montgomery create music that is both familiar and exotic, warm and inspirational. They create contemporary acoustic music that is beautiful and elegant, lush, melodic and worldly, and that encompasses a strong cinematic and emotional range. By playing traditional World instruments in complex, yet melodic and interesting ways, they have created a new hybrid style that is uniquely their own. And it is these qualities that make the music of Fernwood the perfect antidote for our modern, stress-filled lives.

On Sangita, the group combines many apparently disparate concepts into a unified whole. They've tried to infuse the music with many seemingly diverse qualities such as: traditional and modern, Americana and exotic/World, simple and complex, rural and urban, etc, and they've succeeded at this very difficult task. And although the music sometimes has a frail and delicate sound, at other times it is extremely rich and dense, with as many as 50 instruments being used in a single composition, giving Sangita an almost orchestral sound. There is also no compression or other digital effects or manipulations used on the recording (except for reverb) so Sangita has a very fresh, lively and organic sound.

The name "Sangita" is a vague reference to the Sangita-Ratnakarna, an 800 year old book by music theorist Sharngadeva. This massive tome (which translates into "Ocean Of Music") covers the many varied styles of music performed in India, and also the wide range of instruments they played. And although the music on Fernwood's CD is not too much influenced by Indian music, it is in fact a melding of many styles and uses many different instruments in their search for beautiful music.

"Tone continues, time expires"

GUITAR PLAYER Magazine described their debut release ALMERIA as "Wonderfully melodic, expertly layered, masterfully interwoven, luscious yet rootsy.”

FERNWOOD'S FIRST RECORD, "ALMERIA" was named ECHOES Radio "Number 4 ALBUM OF THE YEAR"!!!(2008)

Frail and haunting, beautiful and dreamy, the music of composer team Gayle Ellett and Todd Montgomery has a unique, yet familiar feel. Both of them have been composing and performing music professionally, for a combined total of over forty-five years. Working under the name "Fernwood", their cinematic music blends the beautiful sounds of Greek & Irish bouzouki, sitar, acoustic guitar, Chinese ruan, Turkish cumbus, Moroccan oud, mandolin, harmonium, gimbri, rababa, bulbul tarang, jal tarang, dilruba, dotara, tenor banjo, swarsangam (swarmandal & tambura), gopichand, violin, upright bass and rhodes piano.



RADIO PLAY:
Fernwood's music can be heard locally on KCRW-FM, throughout the country on National Public Radio and ECHOES Radio, and internationally on RADIO CENTRAAL, and on hundreds of other stations throughout the world.

ECHOES Radio "Number 4 ALBUM OF THE YEAR"!!!
ECHOES Radio Show's "Top 25 CD Of The Month" for the past NINE months:
March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November 2008!!!
www.ECHOES.org

FERNWOOD IS:
TODD MONTGOMERY plays Irish bouzouki, sitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, violin and guitar.
GAYLE ELLETT plays Greek bouzouki, ruan, oud, guitar, dilruba, bulbul tarang, jal tarang, harmonium, dotara, gopichand, swarsangam, cumbus, gimbri, rababa, mandolin, piano and upright bass.


ABOUT THE MUSIC:
Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett are currently exploring new areas of Contemporary Acoustic music. Blending both a familiar and exotic sounds, their music has a strong pan-cultural feel. There is a strong focus on melody and dynamics, and the arrangements and orchestrations are interesting and beautiful. By combining elements of Pastoral Acoustic music, with the sounds of Traditional American, Irish, Eastern European, Asian, and Middle Eastern music, they have created a hybrid style that is uniquely their own. All music played by hand, on instruments made out of wood!

Their music has a strong autobiographical feel that accurately portrays a sense of who they are and where they live. Recorded in their Malibu studio, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, their music is a reflection of their lives in Southern California as well as the previous work they've done in the areas of Film and TV composition, Traditional World music, Rock and Jazz.


SOME REVIEWS:
"Fernwood is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalists Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett. The two have scored numerous film soundtracks both together and individually, and it shows. The songs are wonderfully melodic and emotionally direct, the diverse instruments are expertly layered, and dynamics are an essential aspect of the orchestrations. Acoustic stringed instruments constructed of wood predominate, and timbre and sonority suggest place and idiom as strongly as the actual compositional structures. Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and European motifs are masterfully interwoven with Americana to form a luscious yet rootsy imaginary idiom that is intriguing, uplifting, and at once familiar and exotic."
GUITAR PLAYER Magazine

"This month’s Spotlight is a beautiful acoustic based track featuring a combination of instruments that we rarely hear. While the writing, arranging and performances are of the highest order, it is the blend of the various instruments in the mix that really makes this release something special to our ears. Gayle and Todd have skillfully managed to combine numerous stringed instruments, many with competing frequency ranges, into an open, airy mix that leaves space for each individual sound source, while maintaining a full cohesive feel, free of artifact and digital “nasties.” Relax and enjoy! Well done!
Highly Recomended"
RECORDING Magazine

"Fernwood is a musical entity of two musicians who feel each other's essence for such cooperation well. This acoustic cooperation is rather descriptive in a very moody way, with pickings and notes in different rhythmical speeds, spinning around, with some lovely tunes. The listing in my 'acidfolk' section does not completely do justice to the release. Especially young people often tend to look for something with a hype factor, with "weird" or strange or modern associations, while the mature composer also recognises better things that last longer, or that reflect harmonic balances. For record companies, harmonic results are also harder to sell or categorise, when the music does not follow any of the mainstream tendencies. Fernwood's music reflects harmonic pulses and melodies, arranged by the inspirations of a duo playing together with interactions and melted ideas of compositions, and a whole diversity of instruments."
"Recommended!"
PSYCHEDELICFOLK.com (Belgium)

"Californians Gayle Ellett and Todd Montgomery bring a mastery of instruments ranging from bouzoukis and sitars to harmonium, oud, Chinese ruan and mandolin, to a series of captivating original compositions. Each piece has a cinematic feel but is complete in itself, the sounds all slot satisfyingly into place, and the album makes a cohesive, diverse and very rewarding listen."
fROOTS (Folk Roots) Magazine (Ireland)

"The concept behind this album should be enough to tempt any lover of acoustic music to click straight across to CDBaby and grab a copy of this album for a mere $12. The idea is beautiful in its simplicity: All the music is played by hand, on instruments made out of wood. The exhaustive mix of instruments is what separates this album from any acoustic instrumental record I’ve ever heard. The instruments are used in different combinations across the 12 songs. As a result there is a such a wide range of sounds, textures and energies that each stands as a wholly individual listening experience. As a listener I was kept enthralled, as each track opened new possibilities. An enchanting, beautiful and captivating aural pleasure."
Conclusion: 9 out of 10
DUTCH PROGRESSIVE ROCK PAGE at www.DPRP.net (Holland)

“Majestätisch in ihrer Ruhe und Demut, kraftvoll in ihrer Sanftmut, inspirierend in ihrer Bescheidenheit und Einfachheit. Dass Instrumentalmusik, die unter gleichsam esoterischen Aspekten wie „handgemacht“ und „Instrumente ausschließlich aus Holz“ produziert und vermarktet wird, nicht nach Frömmelei riecht – wer hätte das gedacht? Dafür stehen Gayle Ellett und Todd Montgomery offenbar einfach zu fest auf dem Boden der Tatsachen ihres heimatlichen Malibu: Wenn sie nicht alle Arten von Gebrauchsmusik für Filme oder Computerspiele produzieren oder sich Progressive Rock, Folk oder Jazz spielen, gehen sie gern surfen oder Drachenfliegen. Vielleicht kommt der ausgeprägte Sinn für Organik und Harmonie, der das Debütalbum ihres Fernwood-Projektes durchzieht ja aus dieser Art Erdung in der wirklichen Welt? Sanft bauen sich die vor allem auf Bouzoukis, Sitars, Mandolinen, Gitarren, Bässen und dergleichen gespielten Stücke meist auf, schwellen gelegentlich wie Philip Glass’ „Koyaanisqatsi“ oder „Powaqqatsi“ ein Stück an und vergehen wieder. Dabei haben sie einen Sinn für Rhythmik, der sie über Geflirre erhebt, einen Sinn für Dynamik, Struktur und Proportion. Und natürlich sind auch Instrumente wie ein Rhodes Piano mit am Start – aus Holz? Kleine Lüge gelegentlich gehört dazu.”
FOLKER! Magazine (Germany)

"Almeria pervades often the same sphere as records from The Penguin Café Orchestra: broad orchestrations full of strumming and diverse melody-lines which occur simultaneous and are played on many instruments, with rhythmic bass-patterns which create a certain link with rock. The latter is also accomplished by the effective deploy of organ and Fender Rhodes and the use of slide and E-bow. The songs are sometimes cheerful and bright, sometimes modest and sober. There are plenty of folkloristic elements present, because of which the listener feels as if he’s on a musical world-trip or hearing a sound-track from a culture-documentary, although he’s not getting the feeling of being dished up all kind of separate elements. Besides Penguin Café, the fans of the solo-work of Anthony Phillips will also find plenty of recognition, while the closing track Nightingale has the same desolate atmosphere as Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. Solemn, progressive and crystal-clear produced world-music."
iO PAGES (Holland)

“Djam Karet main man Gayle Ellett’s desire to find alternative horizons to plunder have resulted in many an obscure soundtrack project. Together with Todd Montgomery, the crux of this new recording surrounds two bouzoukis originating from geographicly dispersed locations. The subject matter comes from your trusty world map to find “Almeria”, an exotic Old World vacation spot in Spain. The mood of the recording is non-invasive using traditional instrumentation to flesh out spirited jaunts and passive themes. Spanish bird observations pose a common thread from the opening “Sandpiper”, bearing arppegiated passages with a few minor twists, while “Crane” lies in a Frisell vein of simple folk deconstructed themes relying on emotive chords and unsettled lead lines. In contrast “Pelican” is Indian sounding while “Nightingale” is a late night sensitive ballad, calming with a firm resolved ending. “Open Seas” is closer to some of the themes developed from early 1980’s Metheny and Mays, maybe even a little “New Chautauqua”. Covering different ground are pieces such as “Hungarian Holiday” where the harmonium gives an Old World carnival feel and a Ukranian dance fade out. One of the best played pieces is “Makena” that uses that sustained open chord somewhat popularized by David Gilmour and Richard Leo Johnson’s pastoral moments. The disc comes off like a musical tour where few things have changed due to modernization and natural surroundings remain intact. Overall it’s a great headphone experience with a joyful balanced mix.
“Almeria” is a breath of fresh air and is a welcome alternative to today’s electronic and synth dominated music.”
EXPOSE' Magazine

“Fernwood is actually a duo (Todd Montgomery & Gayle Ellett) hailing from Southern California, and they have been working with exotic instruments for many years and in many different styles (Google them both to see where there musical history lies). Almeria is a graceful set of music that carry's you to many locals, and with great spirit. It makes you feel like you are traveling around the world, stopping to hear the local music everywhere you go. Exceptional sound and peaceable acoustic melodies prevail!
Highly recommended!!!
SKOOPZ.com (Philippines)

"Fernwood is a group that's hard to pin down. They mix Americana elements with Appalachian strings along with bouzouki's from the Middle East and Ireland and sitars from India. Headed up by Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett who also plays guitar in the ultra-progressive rock band, Djam Karet, Fernwood creates a global chamber music with Americana accents and cinematically inclined melodies."
DJ John Diliberto described their music as "Acoustic Americana World Chamber Music".
ECHOES RADIO

"Beautiful, picturesque acoustic instrumental music with loads of natural space and some gorgeous chord changes. Just like you're seeing the sea for the first time in 3 years on your road trip."
KIAC RADIO

"Just received your CD this week. I'm listening to it right now; it is wonderful. Love the acoustic sounds; and the acoustic guitar sounds superb."
Bert Lams of the California Guitar Trio


"Merrily and easily mixing ethnic musical influences from all across the globe in compositional structures with a heritage belonging just as much to the world of jazz and rock as folk music, this skilled and talented duo has produced an album that should appeal to individuals enjoying many different musical styles. Followers of world music may find this just as interesting as fans of jazz-fusion and progressive rock. Indeed, if you enjoy acoustic instrumental music this release is worthwhile checking out no matter how you define your personal musical taste. I happily recommend "Almeria" for those who enjoy acoustic instrumental music of the stringed variety."
PROGRESSOR (Uzbekistan)

"The bowed-string family of instruments has yielded several hundred years of rich textural notoriety, from simple string quartet accompaniments, to orchestral scores, to today's big-screen cinematic media ambiance. In contemporary music culture, we immediately think of the string "pad," an underlying atmospheric sonic palate generated by a violin section, deepened by the additional timbre of cellos and basses, even the last quarter century of synthesizer technology has embraced and imitated the sound, granted somewhat artificially.
What few arranger/composers have done is embraced the bonus subtlety of plectrum, the layered articulation of multiple plucked instruments like mandolin or guitar, let alone it's more exotic relatives like Bouzouki, Ruan, or Sitar. What the two pioneers of cinematic sound Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellet offer in their recent release, Almeria is a truly stunning and unique array of soundscapes in a "pan-cultural" approach to composition. Self described as "pastoral and psychedelic," their style blends a traditional American acoustic sound with starkly contrasting elements of global influence, including Irish, Eastern European, Indian, and Middle Eastern. It's cowboy, it's jazz, it's Oriental. Despite the extreme diversity, the music of Fernwood is far from confusing, and after listening to the tracks several times, there is a consistently clear, signature compositional identity.
Like the casual beachcomber can hear the sound of the ocean when placing a stray seashell up to the ear, any who listen to this pleasant music can hear their native Southern California (Malibu) geographic setting in their work. It's "no-pressure" art that does not extrovertly "sell," it casually assimilates and charms.
The CD opens with "Sandpiper," major 7th arpeggio cross-picking injecting a reflective, pastoral mood, the opening theme repeated in Rondo form. The extraordinary slide bouzouki lends a linear feel against the rhythmic pulse heard repeatedly throughout the project, and intensely in the subsequent "Open Seas" as the "gallop" of lower strings conveys its title, as if a sailboat were bouncing of the waves at a high, but steady clip.
We are treated to a bittersweet sitar in "Crow," the gentle melancholy harmonic construction woven over a peg-legged 5/4 time. From there, the harmonium is featured in a Balkan "Hungarian Holiday" with what might profess dissimilar voices, a sitar and Rhodes piano, but the duo work it into a convincing textural whole. The haunting melody is consistent and memorable throughout the whole song. The two are expert at crafting fresh, yet recognizable thematic material, and use tremolo effectively as an intense energy builder, especially in the Greek and Irish zouks over the backdrop of rubato arpeggiated plectra and lilting Rhodes piano in "Athenia."
One might consider the music of Fernwood predominantly modal, were it not for their exploitation of continually evolving shifting tonal centers. The Lydian (raised 4th) vocabulary betrays the "Americana" of "Makena" and "Ruidoso." (Having never actually been to Ruidoso, New Mexico, we're not really sure what the geography is like but from the scoring we get a glimpse of "Old West" a playful horsewhip of strings and hoedown humor. We assume it's nestled in some beautiful forested mountains, with lots of fresh clean air.)
It's the slide/plucked Irish bouzouki telling the story in "Crane," and the curious sitar counter point supports and contrasts at the same time, over the backdrop of a punctuating acoustic guitar. "East Window" is yet another songscape with its own intimate story; melancholy major 7th chord progressions snuggled into descending chromatic lines paint a picture of deep and personal introspection. Montgomery and Ellett are undeniably expert at crafting clever texture, the contrast of Rhodes piano and sitar on "Pelican," and the jazzy upright bass texture betrayed by the introduction of tremolo of Chinese ruan on "County Line."
Arguably, the most intimate of all the tracks, this gorgeous lullaby, "Nightingale" moves slowly but deliberately, fingers and plectrum wringing tone out of each note, Chinese ruan over dulcet Rhodes. It's a great way to sensitively end an inexhaustibly varied compilation of textures and timbres.
The whole project is performed flawlessly and multi-tracked by these talented individuals. It's confident and flashy, but never overtly flamboyant.
Absolutely enchanting, a brilliant mix of interesting textures and layers of exotic acoustic timbers. A tantalizing taste of otherworldly aural delight."
JAZZMANDO.com

"Using only instruments made of wood, Todd Montgomery and Djam Karet's Gayle Ellett blend Old-World and contemporary musical styles on their new all-acoustic project Fernwood. This colorful sonic palette results in Almeria, a remarkably cohesive and compelling debut record. Peaceful but never dull… the duo's sophisticated arrangements and deft touch on a variety of instruments bring songs with vivid titles like "Open Seas" and "Hungarian Holiday" to life.”
"Progressive" in the purest sense of the term.”
SEA OF TRANQUILITY

"Veramente bello e rilassante questo progetto realizzato dal duo Todd Montgomery e Gayle Ellett (più famoso per essere membro dei Djam Karet). La peculiarità di questo progetto sta principalmente nell’uso esclusivo (o quasi… ogni tanto spunta fuori un piano Fender Rhodes) di strumenti acustici in legno. Troviamo, quindi, molti strumenti tradizionali abbastanza inusuali per un progetto di musica moderna. I due non si fan scrupolo di usare sitar, mandolini, bouzuki di origine greca o irlandese, oltre la chitarra, ma troviamo spazio anche per uno strumento come l’harmonium. E’ logico che l’uso di questa strumentazione, a parte la nota di colore, non è il motivo principale per il quale mi ha colpito questo cd. I brani proposti sembrano fatti apposta per accompagnare film o documentari (se avete presente il programma Linea Blu della Rai avete capito a cosa mi riferisco). La melodia è l’aspetto più importante delle dodici tracce proposte in questo disco. Siamo quasi in territori new age (molte soluzioni sonore ricordano molto gli ultimi lavori degli Shadowfax) e world music. Il bouzuki è lo strumento più usato e sembra strano che un gruppo che ha la casa che si affaccia sull’oceano sia così influenzato dalla musica mediterranea e mediorientale senza mai dimenticare le radici sonore statunitensi. Non deve meravigliarci, perciò, il fatto di trovare pezzi bluegrass vicino a brani che sembrano usciti da una raccolta di musica etnica greca. Ne viene fuori un quadro sonoro che, anche se ti ricorda mille cose alla fine ha una sua identità di fondo. Assomiglia agli Shadowfax ma i Fernwood non suonano così new age. Può ricordarti qualcosa dell’ultimo Mauro Pagani, ma non è un disco world music. Può ricordarti certe cose dello Steve Hackett più acustico, ma anche in questo caso le soluzioni sonore sono diverse. "Almeria" è un disco che ogni volta che lo ascolti ti lascia qualcosa in più: una nota, un accordo, una sensazione diversa. E’ bello sapere che ogni tanto si trova ancora qualcuno che con la propria musica ti riconcilia col mondo circostante."
ARLEQUINS (Italy)

"Music is known as one of the universal languages by many people. No matter where we come from, we can tell that each song represents various emotions of love, happiness, joy and even regret. Other sensations can be felt from numerous tunes, so it is of no surprise that true music doesn't have to have vocals to reach your heart. Such touching songs can be heard in Fernwood's new CD Almeria. This album catches the essence of instrumental music. Such essence reveals that the most entrancing sounds do not have to be expressed in the words of one human language. The language that Fernwood speaks is very unusual among even the most well known artists. Each track on this album boasts a unique sound that the group proudly states is played on a variety of instruments made from wood. When one listens to tracks such as "Open Seas," one can easily hear how these various instruments come together to create a sound no one can ever forget. Even though no words can explain how uplifting this track is, one can feel at ease as the strings chant a rhythm that can uplift any lonely soul. While no human voice remains to be heard, the 'lyrics' are indeed emotional as almost anyone can be called into a dance possibly reflecting remorse. Such emotions are merely left for the listener to feel. You won’t be disappointed."
EUPHORIA's MUSIC REVIEWS

"If I were a sandpiper, I’d flutter up speaker-wise. The tweeters and company are doling out a new album called Almeria by the band known as Fernwood. I would hear my namesake with the mellow intacacy of instruments made out of wood. That’s what Todd Montgomerey and Gayle Ellett, the experienced creators of this set know all about. They wade in and out of my lazy sandpiper’s afternoon. An afternoon brought to me by a ruminating soft-focus ascension.
Almeria may be a city in Spain, but in Aribic, it's the mirror of the sea. While flashes of Ravi Shankar and Donovan twirl thy feathers, the Southern California harmonic wavesplash is how Fernwood seems to be parenthesizing their grooves upon my wocked beak smile. As a human being, the sounds of actual birds outside of my window sang along to this backdrop of cinematic moments and thus it felt bizarre to think of any troubles I might have. While thinking about how contributing these sounds are to the birds of the city, was as obscure as it was meaningful, my tall glass of sangria had magically vanished into thick air. This duo is already planning another Frenwood release. The next one, be it as thoughtful, shall provide yet another excuse to dance like a sandpiper on the finishing carvings of a mandolin headstock. And why not?"
FARWEST ALMANAC magazine

"Iza sastava / projekta Fernwood stoje dva iskusna i prekaljena muzicara - Todd Montgomery i Gayle Ellett. Njih dvojica su idejni pokretaci svega sto se u muzicko-koncepcijskom smislu naslo na albumu "Almeria". Naime, kompletan album odsviran je i snimljen putem drvenih akusticnih instrumenata, cime je postignut zeljeni efekat. Postignuta je tako atmosfera koja vesto kombinuje svetonazore "drevnih" starijih vremena i novijih ethno uticaja, a ona je evidentna preko svih ponudjenih tema sa izdanja.
Album je snimljen u Malibu i Topanga (California, USA), pod producentskim nazorima pomenutog dvojca i Wayne Yentis. 12 tema i skoro 48 minuta muzike obiluju cestim promenama i prelazima u razlicite ambijentalne i ethno vode i slike koje se stvaraju preslusavanjem materijala vode do razlicitih strana sveta, od Mediterana, preko ruskih ali i blisko-istocnih prostora. Todd i Gayle su vesto i znalacki u skladnu celinu ukomponovali razlicite instrumente kao sto su mandolina, irski buzuki, sitar, harmonijum. To pokazuje ne samo njihovo veliko pomenuto iskustvo, vec i izuzetno dobro snalazenje u jednom ovako ponudjenom muzickom konceptu.
"Almeria" je izdanje koje svakako zavredjuje vasu paznju, te ukoliko vam se ukaze prilika, ne oklevajte da se upoznate sa muzikom benda Fernwood."
Rated: 9/10
BARIKADA.com (Serbia)

“US-based duo Fernwood explore some rather intriguing and unique landscapes with their debut release. Strings is a keyword for this release, as both Gayle Ellett and Todd Montgomery handle a multitude of different string instruments; from your basic acoustic guitar to more exotic varieties like gimbri and rababah. On 11 of the 12 compositions on this creation a multitude of these are used to create structures at times highly complex, with as much as 5 or 6 different melody lines combining, interweaving or performing harmonic layered songs; most often highlighting contrasts in playing style, sound and musical heritage for the various instruments used. The last tune on the release contrasts the other songs here, a slow moving affair exploring the resonances of the individual notes and licks of a single guitar - a nice way to end an adventurous, acoustic instrumental affair such as this one. If complex, ethnic influenced acoustic instrumental music sounds interesting, or if you're a jazz fan intrigued by world music touches in music; this release should be worth getting.”
THEIR VOICES ARE STRINGS

"Dai Djam Karet ad un'ipnotica world music: l'eccellente esordio del duo califoniano. Quando parliamo di Djam Karet vengono in mente le tempeste d'elettricità sollevate con celebri jam, oppure le oasi sterminate di dilatazione elettronica, ma anche le episodiche deviazioni acustiche. Gayle Ellett - chitarrista della storica band - con Fernwood intende approfondire proprio quella direzione unplugged, in un progetto che non è un semplice "staccare la spina". Nato con Todd montgomery, Fernwood è una dimensione a parte, in cui con soli strumenti di legno del bacino mediterraneo (bouzuki, oud, mandolino etc.) il duo rievoca percorsi chitarristici tipici degli anni '70 (Renbourn e Grossman, Loy e Altomare).
"Almeria" è un disco profondamente calato in un'atmosfera mediterranea e marina: un susseguirsi di ballate dal sapore magico, dagli intrecci chitarristici con sitar, oud, su tappeti di fender rhodes e harmonium ("Hungarian Holiday" è un gioiellino, difficile immaginare che sia il frutto di due americani), brani evocativi come "Open seas" e "Makena", la travolgente "Ruidoso". E' un excursus libero, aperto, che profuma anche di California anni '60 (vedi "Crow", quasi ciclica nel suo respiro): d'altronde il duo ha registrato tra Malibu e Topanga, assorbendo dunque certe suggestioni locali, le stesse che nutrivano un Garcia, un Kaukonen, un Cipollina. Non sarebbe male vederli in un ideale concerto con Tito Rinesi, il più "arabo" dei nostri compositori.
Disco estatico e impregnato di malìa, sfiora solo in alcuni frangenti la ripetitività e la noia ma raggiunge il suo obiettivo. Il duo è già al lavoro per un secondo lp, nel frattempo collabora ad alcune produzioni cinematografiche, grazie a questa musica così gravida di visioni, di colori, di passione."
MOVIMENTIPROG (Italy)

"I come across a lot of talented people, and one common "sin" is the inability to be consistent. It's especially common in multi-instrumentalists, and what you guys do is, despite foraging new ground, is keep things within the bounds of an identifiable personality or signature. Nobody else can do what you're doing, it's so totally unique and enjoyable. I wish you much success!"
Ted Eschliman: Owner of www.JazzMando.com

"You guys all probably know by now that at Guitar Player Zen, we really like to emphasize finding your own voice, developing into an artist with your own sound and uniqueness, finding creative and subtle ways to set yourself apart from the crowd, etc. Well Todd Montgomery and Gayle Ellett have done a great job in finding their own niche. What I like about Fernwood and Todd and Gayle, is the fact that they don’t just classify themselves as putting out a guitar album. Rather, it is an eclectic instrumental album, featuring some very interesting instruments. The music on this album is so amazingly beautiful and peaceful. My advice for listening: Put it on your I-Pod, find a nice place outside (or inside) to lay down, close your eyes, and picture yourself on a European beach surrounded by the people you love most. A fun (and awesome) fact about these two is that they have scored numerous soundtracks for film, tv, animation, computer games, music libraries, and other corporate applications. Well enough talk. How bout you listen to a few of their tracks, go to their myspace, and buy their album!"
GUITARPLAYERZEN.com

“California's Fernwood take their musical cues from all over the world and utilize a wide variety of acoustic stringed instruments from the same places to produce their exquisitely crafted gentle acoustic pieces that conjure up images of travel through far off lands, which sound as though they're from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, just a melting pot of wonderful acoustic exotica. The music is melodic, carefully arranged, always holds your attention and is at all times accessable; it is also evident that it has been recorded with a lot of care too, all the musical layers and detail shine through and the instruments occupy their own spaces which is no mean feat considering the complexity of some of the musical arrangements.
Reviewing individual tracks is almost impossible, for to attempt to describe the delicate song structures and to try and guess which of the long list of instruments have been used would be a case of this reviewer doing the whole album an injustice. There are no individual standout tracks, because to highlight some at the expense of others would be so very wrong. If you can imagine yourself in a warm and beautiful land, where there is time to relax, take in scenery and live life at a slower pace than you might be accustomed to, then this is the music that would be playing from somewhere nearby providing a mesmerizing soundtrack to the whole experience.
This is a beautiful album and is wholeheartedly recommended.”
PSYCHEDELICCENTRAL.com

"Fernwood est une nouvelle formation américaine qui se cantonne dans la musique instrumentale et acoustique. Il faut dire que les deux membres du groupe sont des musiciens aguerris qui ont tout simplement décidé de s’associer pour ce projet particulier. Todd Montgomery est un grand professionnel des instruments à cordes. Il a notamment étudié le sitar avec Harihar Rao, le plus ancien étudiant de Ravi Shankar. Gayle Ellett est plus connu des amateurs de prog : il est entre autres le guitariste de Djam Karet, groupe dont la réputation n’est plus à faire. Nos deux gaillards se sont sans doute fait plaisir, mais ils ont surtout réalisé un disque de grande qualité. En effet, utilisant une grande palette d’instruments, ils ont réussi à enregistrer une douzaine de pièces relativement courtes (de trois à cinq minutes) composées et interprétées avec une grande fi nesse. Même si la formule acoustique peut paraître limitée, elle ne les empêche pas de varier les styles, passant d’une atmosphère mélancolique à un style folklorique enjoué avec la même maestria. Chaque morceau est une petite perle fi ne et agréable. Bien entendu, ce disque n’est sans doute pas celui du siècle, mais il est tout à fait recommandable à ceux qui s’autorisent une ou l’autre escapade hors des sentiers battus."
PROG-RESISTE (Belgium)


FERNWOOD
P.O.Box 4276
Malibu, CA. 90290 USA
www.FernwoodMusicGroup.com



BIOGRAPHY:
TODD MONTGOMERY began experimenting with string instruments in the fourth grade. Since then he has enjoyed learning to play such instruments as Irish bouzouki, sitar, mandolin and guitar. He spent his teen years in psychedelic rock bands until he discovered the folk music of America and Ireland. In search of deeper improvisation in an established tradition, he studied the sitar for 3 years with a real sitar master, Harihar Rao, who is Ravi Shankar's oldest student. He performed on Irish bouzouki and mandolin for the movie, Chasing the Dragon, The Veronica Guerin Story. When he's not playing music or playing with his wife and son, Todd can often be found surfing the waves off Malibu.

GAYLE ELLETT has been composing and producing music for over 35 years, and has performed on over 90 CDs. He has written music for numerous Film projects and TV shows, commercials, animations, and music libraries. One of his main music groups, Djam Karet, currently has 16 CDs released so far, and has received great reviews and awards in hundreds of magazines world-wide, including ROLLING STONE magazine's "#2 Independent Album Of The Year" and BILLBOARD magazine's "Critic's Choice Award". Currently, you can hear his traditional Japanese Koto music playing on MTV-International. When he's not busy working in the studio, Ellett can often be found flying his hang glider 5,000 meters high over the mountains of Southern California and Northern Mexico.


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