Forest Management – Biqui (No Rent Records, 2018)


An ode to the love life of Erik Satie, Forest Management’s Biqui details the brief 6 month affair between Satie and his “Biqui”, Suzanne Valadon. In 7 pieces we’re provided a series of gentle, simple, haunting loops that do the Minimalist some justice, and paint a picture of his strange and enigmatic romantic life and heartbreak.

Piano rings through the stoic quietude on every piece, buried in a hollow darkness often surrounded by a gentle cassette fuzz that deepens the sense of time and mystery to proceedings. Most of them are pretty melancholic; closer “7” trickles despairingly, piano strokes spiralling down into sadness. This concluding piece is markedly final actually, a miserable and confounding resolution that hangs itself in claustrophobic fugue, the silence cavernous and alone.

“5” has a similar attitude, but has yet to reach the lachrymose heights of the closer; the loop is short and simple, a few quick piano strokes floating in suspension, a dusty emulsion of tape hiss isolating the tired music within. It radiates loneliness, isolationism; precursory “3” rings in similarly short bars, piano looping quickly and with a fretfulness that almost senses imminent loss. The despairing feeling has yet to sink in, but its urgency and its mired sound highlight the tension.

It’s not all sad, we are presented with a few moments of lightness despite it all, though only in the opening couplet. “1” hums in harmonies, reversed piano tones elongating the minimal reverie as precious little moments are spun out, wrung for every last instant of pleasure and brightness. Following “2” is admittedly more muted, perhaps in a cynical way, its timeless yet distant presentation shimmering into view lightly only to dive repeatedly into discordance at the end of its arpeggiations. It marks the beginning of the end, a sign of the unsustainability of emotion, thinning out until lilting sharply downwards in decay.

The sense of rejection makes this an almost uncomfortable listen at times, the persistency of the loops reinforcing the entrenched and difficult emotions faced in heartbreak and loss, but it’s exactly that simple repetition that makes this record shine.