Friday, February 16, 2007

Gnosis review, Boomkat review, The Tree People album now mentioned in a book!

Tom Hayes, Gnosis website
8-June-2007 The Tree People

The Tree People were an Oregon based acoustic group centered around guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Stephen Cohen (who had recently been transplanted, hobo style coffee house to coffee house, from Rhode Island). “The Tree People” was privately released in 1979 and quickly disappeared into specialists collections. On the surface it would appear to be just another basic singer songwriter album, with an environmentalist message. Fortunately, it’s nothing of the sort. Rather “The Tree People” is a meditative, deeply introspective work, with a stunningly clear production, that really does make one feel they are amongst natural surroundings. The best tracks feature recorder and flute, such as ‘Opus’ (my personal favorite), ‘Pot of Gold’, ‘Morning Song’ and ‘The Pineapple Song’. Cohen has a slight rural twang in his voice, one that seems confident yet vulnerable. Despite the sparse nature of the recording, The Tree People are quite a distant cousin to the recent free-folk artists on exhibit today. For progressive folk fans, the comparisons go northwards towards some similarly minded Canadians. Perhaps most obvious would be the Vancouver based Ptarmigan, though there’s not a hint of aggression in The Tree People. But the acoustic guitar, fragile vocals and ample use of recorder are instantly recognizable. As well, there are similarities with their French speaking brethren in Quebec, such as L’Engouvelent or the earliest works by Connivence. I’ve seen comparisons as far-fetched as Comus, and I would say that’s about as far as one can get from The Tree People. Evil sounding aggressive pagan music? Not The Tree People! How about a new movement called Introspectica Americana? As is so often the case, due to family and career responsibilities, this was to be the end of the 4 piece band. They marched on as duo, even managing to get out a cassette in 1984 titled “Human Voices”. The CD reissue on Tiliqua Records is stunning. A beautiful Japanese mini-LP, extra thick cardboard, with a full history, photos, etc… It’s very obvious that this is a labor of love, and that the label owner is a huge fan of the album. Bravo.

Links for further information

Here is a review from Boomkat, a U.K. web site:

THE TREE PEOPLE - The Tree People
CD // £14.99


It's always interesting to me when you throw an album into the wonderful (and occasionally lifesaving) Google machine and it returns absolutely nothing of use. Taking the Tree People's 'Some Random Impressions' into the realms of internet searching brings up quite surprisingly one of my favourite movies, the splatter/exploitation classic 'Cannibal Holocaust' - a far cry from the pastoral folk found on the album itself, but proof if it were needed that the record is more than obscure. Tiliqua records was introduced to us only a week ago with their simply sublime porn-themed 'Erotic Oriental Sunshine' series of cds, but here they are digging in the archives of American folk music and have discovered a rare and beautiful gem. Coming as ever with extensive notes on the band and the release itself, Tiliqua have proved beyond doubt that they really know how to treat re-issues and have got to be doing it better than pretty much everyone else out there at the moment. Although you might not have heard of the Oregon based band before, there should be no reason not to start nosing around at once as this is absolutely essential odd-world folk music, the sort of music that maybe served as one of the links in the chain to the current re-kindling of interest acid folk music and its offshoots. With the usual concoction of lilting acoustic guitars, Eastern percussion and haunting flute, the band put together a quite startling collection of songs, songs which never sounded quite so relevant. While the record may have been ignored on its release, destined to obscurity, now it makes so much sense, with its honesty and heart shining through triumphantly. It makes me happy to see a record like this, 25 years later being dug up and re-discovered, it somehow proves that great records can't be kept down, that people will always be searching out good music however obscure. Fans of Six Organs of Admittance, Espers and the like should look no further for a darned good Christmas treat! Highly Recommended.

The Tree People album is now mentioned in a book, "The Acid Archives". Thank you so much to one of my trusted European friends for bringing this to my attention.

from "The Acid Archives"
by Patrick Lundborg, Ron Moore and Aaron Milenski:

"Tree People" 1979
Stark acoustic guitars, recorders, and a variety of percussion instruments make this a distinctive hippie folk album. The Modality Stew comparisons are valid, as there are a number of experimental instrumentals with an Eastern flavor. The vocals are strong, and at times the bleak songs resemble Nick Drake. Not all of it works, most of the songs are variations on two themes (one vocal, the other instrumental), and the one diversion is hopelessly 70s singer-songwriter, but this is definitely something that will interest fans of loner and experimental folk. It's memorable and oddly intense. [AM] = Aaron Milenski