Boomkat Product Review:
Beautiful, highly unusual arrangements for synthetic bass & traditional Chinese strings on this spellbinding second volume of Iona Fortune’s ’Tao Of I’ series, the first volume of which was one of the standout albums of 2017 and still on heavy rotation here. Fortune once again re-frames three-thousand year old Chinese text and instrumentation within the context of hyper-modern bass music, stripped bare. There’s really nothing else quite like it, but if you’re unfamiliar with her music and into anything from Coil to Laraaji, Jon Hassell to Lynch & Badalamenti - we urge you to dive in.
Issued by Ecstatic as the 2nd of 8 albums by Iona exploring hexagrams of the I Ching, or ‘The Book of Changes’ - a 2500 year old Chinese divination text referenced extensively in religion, art, philosophy, psychoanalysis, science and mathematics - ‘Tao of I Vol. 2’ sees Fortune refer to millennia of human experience thru an electro-acoustic prism of Synthi AKS, Guzheng and Gamelan, newly expanded with Erhu, Kim, Yanqin, Zhong and Bawu. The wider scope of her palette allows a greater detail of airy calligraphic expression to her multi-dimensional microcosmos, channelling a wondrous energy in a fluidly melodic narration of mystic ideas made musically tangible.
In eight parts Iona acts as conduit for extraordinary, invisible and arcane forces. Inspired by the I Ching’s fundamental principles, her music infuses minimalist frameworks with finely tempered but lush emotive cues that bring to life the I Ching’s conviction that “music has the power to ease tension within the heart and to loosen the grip of obscure emotions.” It most beautifully manifests this idea in concisely exacting forms and to contemplative ends, creating a slow, serene and harmonious music that coolly commands relaxed states of reception, best for mulling over life, and stuff.
At once as light as a fleeting thought but permanent as an organism passing on its code, the music conjures mindsets comparable to Coil at their uncanniest, the post-erotica 4th world sensations generated by Jon Hassell, or the dark energy expressed in David Lynch films and their soundtracks. Most crucially Iona achieves this through a synthesis of self-exploration and instrumental actualisation, employing an unusual composition strategy of seeking calm from tradition and momentum from a new kind of synthetic, propulsive energy.