A homage to The Neverending Story – Michael Ende’s book, not the 1984 film – Grograman and the Secret Sound of Colors relates to the lion-like creature who lives in Goab, the Desert of Colors, a place in symbiosis with the night forest, Perilin.
In another perfect line of symmetry, Future Zen breathes new life into a fantastical, living world made of subdued orbs and dusky, evening lights, occupied by glowing synths and chirping electronics. Arpeggios light up one by one, bringing to light a secret set of steps or skipping stones. A heavier bass drags the music into the realms of sleep.
Like a family of fireflies, the notes illuminate a fairy-tale of a place, like something from Disney’s Magic Kingdom, but even dreamier. Echoing calls emanate from the hills, which are lit by the silvery trailing fingers of a foreign moon. Romanticized and gentle, chilled and using a pinch of the exotic, Future Zen’s ambient is deep and vibrant; it takes you to another world.
A diverse range of flora and fauna makes an appearance. A variety of swirling, vivid colors mature and bear fruit: purples, apricots and royal blues swim underneath the yellow and white starlight of an enchanted world, the progressions blurring the dimensions between sound and mind, between page and eye, blinding the physical reality of the world with a 500-page dose of unadulterated escapism.
Far from taking place in a land of wonder, the music bears a relation to the perils and uncertainties that swamp Fantastica, the world in which The Neverending Story takes place, witnessing its gradual and unexplainable disappearing. The zoned-out tones and sleeping chords are, for the most part, beautiful designs, but they aren’t always able to taste the sweet juices of nirvana. Instead, some of the tracks have a core of peril or danger ala The Dark Crystal, a souring of unfulfilled wishes and deep longings which blends into the entire adventure. Some parts are more relaxed than others, because every chapter is different. Grograman changes color like a chameleon, and in a similar fashion the music blends and turns, repeating its evening rainbow of curling colors and spherical strobes.
Grograman and the Secret Sound of Colors is a musical fantasy – with a series of subtle shifts and morphing lights as your narrator – but even this fantasy must end. The silence will lead you back home when it is time to move on; a closing of the book after the final page has been read, and the desert’s last sunset.
‘Every sunset he turns into stone; the desert disappears and a fluorescent forest comes to life. But, by dawn, the lion’s death is over, and now the forest has to die’. (James Catchpole)