Monday, November 27, 2006

Aquarius Records review of The Tree People

Johan of Tiliqua Records has now placed The Tree People reissue CD with an additional distributer, Aquarius Records of San Francisco, They have a huge mailing list worldwide of some 100,000 people. Here is their review:

TREE PEOPLE, THE s/t (Tiliqua)
Not to be confused with Doug Martsch's amazing nineties outfit, the Treepeople, -these- Tree People are equally amazing, but are a whole different proposition.
This disc was originally released as a super limited lp way back in 1979 and managed to quietly disappear. Now, here we are nearly three decades later, and whattaya know? There's a whole movement of modern free folk, 'freak' folk and the like, and if you didn't know better, pretty sure we could pass this off as some strange super limited cd-r by some modern folk revivalists. But keen ears would certainly be able to tell. This is so entirely original (especially for the time) and genuine sounding. Mostly acoustic guitars, flute and vocals, the Tree People had two distinct sounds, the first, a lilting melancholy moonlit folk, like Cat Stevens or Van Morrison, a gorgeous lazy drawl, rich and lustrous, over simple folk and fluttering flutes, dreamy and gorgeous, sounding like some lost folk classic one minute, a strange "Girl From Ipanema" style shuffle the next. But even at it's sweetest and softest, the record seems to always have a hint of melancholy, sometimes even a trace of ominous foreboding. Which definitely gives the songs a subtly dark undercurrent. The majority of the record however is spent in full on hippy jam mode. Very Comus-like at times (especially on track two, "Sliding"), wild steel string excursions, dense tangles of fingerpicked melodies and aggressive strummed riffs, with a definite raga like vibe, all over a smattering of hand drums and tablas, a glorious drifting buzzing steel string dronefolk, that just sounds so incredibly timeless. Elsewhere, the same jams evolve into more tranquil acoustic dreaminess, with the flutes floating over sweet lilting melodies, but even then, the songs will be peppered with sudden bursts of buzzing slide guitar, or brief squalls of atonal fingerpicking. SO cool. And considering the current love of all things freaky and folky, it's sort of amazing that stuff like this was already being made 27 years ago!
Obviously, fans of the current crop of modern folk troubadours will find this absolutely essential, Devandra, Vetiver, Espers, Newsom, whatever your particular poison, the Tree People will fit in frighteningly well. Hard to say whether it speaks to the prescience of the Tree People, or just to how much these modern bands have actually been 'borrowing'. Either way, this is absolutely essential.
Packaged in a super deluxe Japanese miniature gatefold style cd sleeve, with a printed obi, and extensive liner notes in English and Japanese!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Other Music review of The Tree People

Other Music of New York City is now carrying The Tree People, thanks to some good work by Johan of Tiliqua Records. This is really nice because they might reach some new listeners with their big city connections. Here is what they have to say on their web site:

The Tree People

Thought this might've been unreleased songs by Doug Martsch's old band, but this is a reissue of a legendary late '70s private-press folk album out of Oregon, led by guitarist and songwriter Stephen Cohen. Within lie nine thoroughly stunning examples of outsider folk, informed by the heat of Delta blues and the darker direction of serious, post-Woodstock singer-songwriter a la Joni Mitchell or Van Morrison, all the while serving within and without the traditions of American folk. The arrangements here are cunning yet gentle; the playing assured in stature but evocative and searching in execution. Rests aside the Gary Higgins and Virgin Insanity reissues as a pinnacle of beatific, pristinely executed 20th century folk. Cohen's musicianship is something you could get lost in for hours on end. [DM]