The allure of Missoula's Ancient Forest might correlate with how much of a fantasy geek you are. This album's soundscape only enhances my love for Tolkien's Middle Earth and all its moon letters and troll camps. It evokes traveling a long, treacherous path through the White Mountains via mule train, surrounded by moss and stars and gnarly tree roots. But is that just me? Kalen Walther, the solo musician behind this project, never seems to break the illusion, however you might relate to it, and that's enchanting in itself. "The Magic Key" moves like it's underwater, and the title track slows to an even trippier march, but without becoming boring: clapping and horns add texture to the warped pace. "Even in Winds of Olde Thyme," which follows a more folksy format, is still in service to this ancient sound.
And, okay, it's not just for fantasy dorks. How about if you just love wilderness or cozy cabins? The lyrics themselves point to chimney smoke curling from a cobblestone house overlooking a sparkling mountain lake. Not hippie, but earthy, Walther's vocal affecthard, curling "r"s and a cautiousness that doesn't outshine his other instrumentsmakes even him seem of an older time, like he's recreating some uncorrupt universe and preserving it for us.
Ancient Forest plays Zoo City Apparel Wed., April 4, at 8 PM with Netherfriends, Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt and Abe Coley. $5.