Ptarmigan released its second album, The Forest Darling, on Friday. The band drew inspiration from vocalist Peter Marting's trip to Peru.

Emily Adams/Photographer

Ptarmigan releases its second album in the Key of Forest

The album drops Friday.

By Emily Adams | April 29, 2011

Tags: Music


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For most modern artists, inspiration is derived from a coalition of their musical library, a pre-existing desire to rejuvenate the music that they idolize. For Ptarmigan, inspiration dwells in the heart of the jungle, in the essence of the disoriented mindset, in the sounds of isolation.

Last week, Columbia-bred pop-rock band Ptarmigan released their second album, The Forest Darling. Many might find the album's unique collection of sounds incoherent, but for those looking for something different, the album takes the eclectic sounds of indie rock to a new level.

“This album is all about the comfort in wanting to be lost,” Ptarmigan’s bassist and vocalist Peter Marting said. “It’s a wanting to express this feeling that isn’t commonly expressed.”

The album possesses its genesis in Peru. Marting traveled to Peru in 2007 to study birds' nests and lost himself in the consolation of the sounds around him. This emotion drove the band’s ascendance into songs that resembled the forest’s resounding pitch.

Even though band-mates, Ted Carstensen, drums, and Evan Walton, guitar and vocals, did not accompany Marting to the Peruvian panorama, they have a strong bond to the music that resulted from the scene.

“We had an attachment to the music, with what we were going through even at home, meaning the lost-ness," Carstensen said. "Only, it was in a different, less-comforting sense of the word. We are using these songs to preserve that feeling, being lost versus wanting to be lost.”

From its incisive melodic styles to its nature-embodying lyrics that reverberate that of The Counting Crows, Ptarmigan is the bird that sings the language unsung to those who have not experienced the remoteness of the forest.

Surrounded by an atmosphere that he likens to Lewis Carroll’s "Alice in Wonderland," Marting specifically used the poetry from the novel in the song “The Quadrille” to emphasize the perplexed attitude of the Peruvian ambiance.

A sound that touches on Iron and Wine, accompanied by a sharp edge and spasmodic performances similar to Cage the Elephant, nonetheless holds unique qualities that could never be understated.

Although I appreciate the influences that are rooted so deeply in this music and the clever lyrics that form the true art behind each song, I found the techno-induced overtones to the melodies overpowering and overwhelming.

In contemporary music, successful artists normally begin with songs the individual can not only relate to, but also connect their emotional state to that of the musicians’. The inimitable hums flowing throughout this album might be ahead of their time in that their nature-infused swagger is hardly cohesive with the ideology of today’s pop audience.

This is not music to set your alarm to or to fall asleep to on your iPod. This is not workout soundtrack material or the background to your day. The sounds to be experienced on The Forest Darling are ones that need an innovative instinct and dedication to comprehend.

However, no one can ignore the passion behind this band’s music, evident in their on-stage, animated energy and the meticulous detail which binds every note. The future for this band relies on their capacity to translate their sound to a more relatable, yet still distinct, foundation.

To hear Ptarmigan, a band vividly true to their influence, visit or

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