Slow-walking drones populate the depths of a mist-soaked rainforest that hasn’t seen the rising sun for years. mayforest hangs around in the deepest part of it, skulking around in a low register. Pretty sounds may be thought of prior to listening, forming part of a general assumption, with May bluebells and shooting sunflowers pointing to a bright spring, but this is far from the truth.
Other than a midnight mass held by a congregation of gigantic trees, the listener is alone. Echoing chimes and mystic tones creep stealthily behind the trunks, occasionally rattling among the leaves. The notes burn with a decidedly cool temperature, like an arctic wind during a prolonged cold snap in spring. To be honest, it feels more like February than May.
Something of a rainy mood takes hold – refreshing, yes, but you still need to protect yourself from it. You can feel the damp in the air, settling on your skin. The place feels more like Willow Creek or the Forbidden Forest than a magical, Disney-friendly wood, although it’s easy to imagine Maleficent herself walking past these very vines and over these cold, heavy branches once upon a time. A kind of spell comes over the music as the dark notes settle, drifting around like chargrilled smoke emerging from a cauldron. This is another kingdom, though: you’re huddled tight in the forest’s gnarled arms now, and you must learnt to live by its rules. This isn’t a comfortable kind of ambient by any stretch of the imagination, but neither does it entertain the monochromatic light of midnight. The sun isn’t here, though, and there aren’t any birds in the treetops to sing a brighter chorus.
A more noticeable bass quivers against the music as we go further in, and a tiny note-sect loops around the signpost of the sixth track. Growing in confidence as the record progresses, mayforest’s ideas are soon set in stone. Stronger phrases make the branch heavier, until it looks for all the world like a sleeping python. The final track brings us to a tinkling melody which seems to offer a way out of this slumbering maze…or perhaps it leads only to another clearing, occupied by a sweetly-scented gingerbread house. If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. (James Catchpole)