Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Trees

The Christ Tree (US 1975)

In reviewing the album it is not my intent to denigrate any religion or belief but I think that most people would accept there is a point where devotion crosses over into obsession, where the people concerned are unable to focus on any other aspect of their lives and lose touch with reality. This has been shown in countless tragic examples such as the mass suicide-murder of Reverend Jim Jones commune in the late 1970s. Listening to this album the performers have clearly crossed a line. On the cover we have the commune in ceremonial dress, with ecstatic looks on their faces which gives some indications of where we are going.

The album merges Indian sitar, harp, guitar, pump organ, koto, dulcimer and massed vocals. The instrumentation is accomplished and often stunningly beautiful weaving intricate patterns that bring together eastern and celtic, religious and folk music into a cohesive style. There are countless instruments listed on the sleeve from around the world which give the album a broad sonic palette with excellent production to give a sound that is fairly unique. The instrumental sections are heart warming and have only recently been matched in the 90s by Stephen Bacchus who is highly recommended often in a similar fusion of world wide styles into a fantastic whole.

Vocally it is so intense that you will either love or hate them, there is no compromise here as these are the songs of the completely obsessed sounding like hippies who left behind the drugs and became devoted. However they have thought about vocal arrangements with groups of vocalists swooping in and out, dropping to a soloist then building up to huge crescendos. You could make the case that this either is or isn't folk music, however it's so strange that I don't imagine it will ever find another home (apart from modern cultists who rediscover the album). Those who imagine The Wicker Man soundtrack is about as strange as it gets would fell propelled to a whole new level here, often you just sit back and think 'these people are demented' almost as though it's beamed to them from elsewhere...

Lyrically if you're not exactly sympathetic to Christianity unless you can look past this then it will be an uncomfortable listen as the songs are either parables of their own disturbed making or psalms. However taken at face value or ignored it becomes hypnotic and entrancing, it really is a wild and strange journey, it's intensity even becoming unsettling and scary at points. If the massed sound and vocals of the US band The Polyphonic Spree have interested you recently then they will sound like pre-school listening when you hear this. In fact they share a vocal technique of using ever building fast repetitive wordless vocals 'na' na' na' Na' Na' NA' NA' that really are quite disturbing. Last track Psalm 46 is a peak and is quite amazingly beautiful, eventually seeming to reach the state of bliss they have sought throughout this album

Sample pic: Click


Blogger Unknown said...

Actuallt this is being released as a 4 cd remastered boxset by Tim Renner on the Dark Holler label.I kid you not.He tracked down the original artists & has been working on this for like 3 years.It's the original album plus 3 cd's of outtakes & other stuff.The box will unfold like the petals of the star of david.I know that Tim was majorly pissed that Radioactive illegally released this on their label in Europe without permission from the artists.Check out his website for more details.http://www.somedarkholler.com/news.html
Great album by the way.

08 August, 2006 11:37  
Blogger phoneyfresh said...

This sounds very groovy, is there any chance of re-uploading it? I know it's a pain if you can't I'll understand. Thanks!

05 November, 2006 05:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A reissue is long overdue. If the kids hear this then they'll burn their drug stash and head for salvation in the christian faith in their droves.This is incredible stuff.

06 November, 2006 21:10  
Blogger Premodern Bloke said...

Could you please repost this?

18 January, 2009 12:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please please re-post this! Many thanks!

28 January, 2009 18:26  

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