Friday, December 10, 2010

Wonderful review of "It's My Story" In HI-Fi World magazine (U.K.)

There is a wonderful review of our "It's My Story" album in Hi-Fi World magazine (United Kingdom). It was one of their Audiophile Vinyl picks, along with an Elvis reissue vinyl album- so although we never shared a stage with Elvis, we can now say we shared a page with Elvis. Here is the review of our album:

It's My Story

   I have to hold my hands up and admit that I'd never heard of this outfit before who hail from Oregon, U.S.A. After some investigations I found that they released their first album (self-titled) in 1979 and then followed that up with another ("Human Voices") five years later. I knew that teachers had long holidays, but this is ridiculous because this album is the band's third release- was it worth the wait? The current incarnation consists of Stephen Cohen (acoustic guitar), Jeff Stier (flute) and Rich Hinrichsen (double bass) with the added occasional voices of Maeve Stier and Nicole Campbell. Their music is basically folk but it's not as simple as that. There's to many tweaks in their work for them to be labelled with such a simple word. Which is why you will see the words "freak folk", "psych folk", and "alt-folk" tagged rather uncertainly to them.  
    Whatever you call them, "It's My Story" is a wholly engaging album that, right from the start, pulls you into their head space. Beautifully melodic, the album is both busy and calming in its presentation. The title track, the first on Side One, grabs you immediately with a delicious selection of hooks while the next track on the side, "Sunday", takes you on an organic ambient journey of flute, double bass and acoustic guitar. And so it goes on, mixing instrumentals and vocal tracks throughout, in a wonderfully dreamy manner. For those wondering what the band was up to during its earlier days, you can get a flavour by checking out the track "Space Heater", which sits on Side Two and is a remake of the track which appeared on their debut release. A series of complicated ideas simply executed to form a magical album. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Tree People's last United States performance, Spain in March up next, the music will live!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Tree People's new album, "It's My Story" now released!


We are very, very happy to announce the August 31st, 2010 release of the new album by The Tree People, "It's My Story", by Guerssen Records of Spain!


It's my story

Format. LP, CD

Description. Fathers of freak folk / folk psych pioneers The Tree People have incredibly made it again.

Responsible of two awesome works in the late 70's and early 80's, here they are now with a new album and we can tell you sound exactly as they did 30 years ago. This could be their best work ever. Mellow, tender freak folk with acoustic guitar, double bass, recorder, flute and percussion.

Eleven new tracks, plus a new version of '' Space heater'' which was in their 1979 debut.

Includes insert with photos and liners by folk- psych connoisseur Gerald Van Waes.

Here are the liner notes by Gerald Van Waes, which also, along with reviews of the 2 earlier albums by The Tree People, can be found on his site,

Guerssen Rec.     The Tree People : It's My Story (US,2010)****

A few years ago Johan Wellens from Tiliqua Records (at that time living in Tokyo, but he was an Antwerp friend of mine before he left) told me, knowing I loved the acid folk genre, I should check out Tree People. For him their albums were amongst his favourites of the genre and he was going to rerelease their first album. Also the second album was going to be released on the label too but Guerssen took over the job, and now we have this, third album which fitted perfectly with the previous recordings. In fact it might even be the best of the three. And that is a strange thing because it is recorded some 31 years later as the first album without having lost any of its early charm. I did not even realise when I first heard the master that I was listening to a new recording at all!

One of the elements which I liked very much from the beginning are the open, natural improvisations, leading to the more epic moments of songs, which reminded me like in the first album also of Ptarmigan, which I took as an example because such calm, breathy, natural landscapes of atmospheres working like breathing seashores around islands of songs are rarely dug out as inspirational sources in musical albums. These pieces are built from picking, double bass, glockenspiel and marvellous flute improvisations. The songs have touches of humour before they start like this child imitating an old women or the dog barking its share into the song, but also the songs themselves take life from the lightest side of seriousness. One of Stephen Cohen’s stronger later songs  from his Stephen and the Talk Talk band reappears here as a perfect introduction as if saying musicians want to share the music. They have to share them like stories. Whatever people do with them does not matter. These stories take their own life. Stephen Cohen after Tree People (before the group was re-established again just recently) had gained experience in the narrative and epic field, after having worked with children and made also an album with songs for them (perhaps a part of that period relived in some songs like in “Living with the animals”). And this experience helped in picking out the right tracks to focus upon in this album. Also a new version of "Space Heater" from the first Tree People album reappears, but for the rest they are new songs. But more amazing are the improvisations, how after all these years Stephen succeeded to make this style advance so much after all these years. Perhaps not only this is the best Tree People album, I’m sure this will be a future classic too.

Label : &

And here, just in, in French and English, from the Monsieur Delire website:

THE TREE PEOPLE / It’s My Story (Guerssen - merci à/thanks to Forced Exposure)

J’ai pleuré de joie en écoutant It’s My Story. Sans blague. La simple existence de ce disque m’émeut. J’ai adoré le deuxième album de The Tree People, une cassette du début des années 80 rééditée par Guerssen l’an dernier. Et voilà que, suite au succès d’estime de la réédition des deux seuls albums du groupe, le trio de l’Oregon s’est reformé. Et ce tout nouveau disque efface nonchalamment 30 ans d’inactivité (du moins sur disque). Stephen Cohen a toujours cette voix innocente d’enfant émerveillé par les banalités de la vie. Les arrangements (souvent guitare acoustique/flûte/contrebasse) sont encore aussi légers, tendres et d’un mélodisme intemporel. C’est beau, c’est rêvé, c’est impossible, et pourtant il est là, ce disque, je l’écoute, il existe, contre toute attente. Encore! Je t’en prie, Stephen, raconte-nous quelques histoires de plus! [Ci-dessous: Un extrait de “More Than Yoko”.]

Damn, I actually cried while listening to It’s My Story. No kidding. The very existence of this record moves me to tears. I love The Tree People’s second album, a cassette form the early ‘80s, reissued last year by Guerssen. And now, due to the critical praise for the reissue of the band’s two albums, the Oregon trio has reconvened. AND this new record effortlessly bridges the 30-year gap. Stephen Cohen still has this wonderfully innocent voice of child in wonderment of life’s simplest things. And the arrangements (usually, acoustic guitar/flute/doublebass) are still as light, tender, and timelessly melodic as ever. It’s beautiful, it’s a dream come true, it’s impossible, and yet it’s here, in my hands, I’m listening to it, it exists against all odds and it’s JUST AS GOOD as the music they were doing three decades ago. More! I want more! Please, Stephen, tell us more of your stories!

A sound clip from “More than Yoko.”

and here,  Casey Jarman's post about More than Yoko on the Willamette Week website:

The Tree People, “More than Yoko,” It’s My Story (Guerssen)

November 19th, 2010 [3:46PM] Posted by: Casey Jarman

It’s hard to set a poem to a song and not have it just sound like a poem and a song, competing for attention. The Tree People manage it on “More than Yoko.” I’m a big fan of Stephen Cohen’s delivery, and he’s all alone on this particular tune, so he gets to set the pace and the tone with just his guitar and his vocals. It’s a little moment, one imagines the exchange taking place under covers in a warm room with rain falling outside. Or maybe in the car on the way to the airport (because no one says goodbye AT the airport anymore. In that regard, the terrorists have won).
Keeping my thoughts short and sweet here (like the song), but you really should check out the Tree People.

and here is Casey Jarman's review of It's My Story in Willamette Week:

The Tree People It’s My Story     (Guerssen)

[MINIMAL FOLK] Following up a great album is hard to do. Following it up after a 26-year recording hiatus is just dumb. And yet, the Tree People have picked up right where they left off. The Portland-via-Eugene psychedelic folk group’s reunion disc, It’s My Story, is an album that showcases the same off-kilter beauty of its predecessor, Human Voices, a disc released in 1984 and widely considered a lost folk gem until its reissue last year.

The Tree People are a hard outfit to explain, because on paper the music sounds like your standard country fair fare: They’re called the Tree People, for chrissakes, and the instrumentation includes stand-up bass, panpipes, penny whistle and “throat singing.” But the band—multi-instrumentalists Stephen Cohen, Jeff Stier and Rich Hinrichsen—share a vision that’s more Sendak than Tolkien, and more Van Morrison than Donovan.

This is especially true of the vocal tracks: The title track proves that the group’s singer-songwriter, Cohen (a guy who can pull off a beret), remains an expert of vocal pacing and delivery. “The Change in Kate” has the jazzy feel of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” (“You can hear soulful singing when she talks/ You can see joyous dancing where she walks,” he sings) without the heroin-chic. Cohen’s strength is in a childlike wonder and charm that hasn’t diluted over the years.

In fact, if the disc has a weakness, it’s that we could use a little more of Cohen’s striking vocals. “X Times Y”—a Danny Elfman-esque psych-folk instrumental with strings that sound like pigeons overhead or the upstairs neighbors’ squeaky box spring—fares well without a voice, as does the touching “Melody for 3,” but “Sunday” and “Hearing Test” feel like freak-funk jams without the funk, and will probably leave pop-oriented listeners hitting skip. Still, Cohen uses his limited time on the mic to its fullest. “More Than Yoko” is a 30-word beat poem set to song, and it comprises two of the album’s strongest minutes—another reason the Tree People deserve your attention. CASEY JARMAN.

and here is Barbara Mitchell's review in the Oregonian:

The Return of Tree People

Published: Friday, November 12, 2010, 5:09 AM

Barbara Mitchell, Special to The Oregonian

There's a platitude that holds that everything happens at the right time, in the right place and for the right reason. It's taken 26 years for the Tree People to release a third album, but "It's My Story" feels like it's been delivered exactly on time.

Devendra Banhart and his cohorts may have revitalized the genre, but freak/acid-folk has deep roots -- roots that wrap around the Tree People, who released their first album way back in 1979.

While a lot has changed in the world at large, time has stood still in the best possible way in this kingdom. Finger-picked guitar, simple lyrics and whimsical flute/recorder lines create an alternate world of innocence and improvisation saturated by love and nature.

Mainstays Stephen Cohen and Jeff Stier reunited in 2007, but there's a lot that could be attributed to 1967 here. Like a time machine devoted to transporting the listener back to a kinder, gentler, more wide-eyed age, this is a ticket to the Autumn of Love -- there's both beauty and sadness in the instrumental tracks, and Cohen's almost childlike vocals carry a weight (and a hope) that scores an emotional, complex bulls-eye.

Cohen intones on "Legends of the Tree People." If you're allergic to patchouli, there's nothing to see here. If part of you secretly yearns for a positive pied piper to help you transcend the here and now, you should reacquaint yourself with the Tree People.

-- Barbara Mitchell

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Tree People and friends descend into the Cistern


                  These photos of the Dan Harpole Cistern are from the Centrum website.

As part of a wonderful Tree People Centrum Creative Residency, where we spent 5 very special days creating, rehearsing, recording and performing music, two of the Tree People (Stephen Cohen and Rich Hinrichsen) and friends (Bruce Cowan and Mike Naughton) descended into the Dan Harpole Cistern at Fort Worden, Port Townsend, Washington.

After some experimentation of the echoes and with the sound possibilities of the Cistern, we were able to spontaneously create and record a piece of music with voices and found objects in the Cistern that will be the first movement of a Cistern Symphony that we will plan to complete in the next year. The piece starts with Bruce (Bruce becomes the lead found horn player on the piece) blowing into a metal tube he found on the floor of the Cistern and it continues with Stephen (Stephen becomes the lead found percussionist on the piece) dropping various pieces of metal found on the Cistern floor back on the floor, while Rich, Bruce (Rich and Bruce become the lead voices on the piece), Mike and Stephen engage in chanting, and it proceeds from there, with the 4 participants using their voices and any scrap metal they can find to move the piece forward.

It was all recorded on a hand held recording device that Rich had fortunately purchased just a week before our residency. And it all happens because of the fantastic acoustics and spirit inside the Cistern. And it could not have happened without Centrum. Thanks also go out to Deborah Petersen, who kept watch from above, and the Fort Worden ranger who opened the entrance to the Cistern before our descent in and closed it after our descent out. Tree People member Rich Hinrichsen said later that the descent into the Cistern was was one of his best musical experiences ever.

                      Here is a video of our first Cistern experience:

You can hear the first movement of the Cistern Symphony at our new facebook music page documenting the creation of the Cistern Symphony. You can also hear it at our myspace page: it is the 10th piece of music on the page.

We plan to complete a Cistern Symphony by composing, creating and recording several more movements, instrumental and vocal, in 2011, with several more guest artists joining us in our second descent into the Cistern.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Tree People album, "It's My Story" to be released soon by Guerssen Records

Guerssen Records is now working on the release of our new album, It's My Story.
Printing and pressing of the vinyl album begins this week, with work on the CD soon to follow.
Antoni and his wonderful staff at Guerssen Records in Spain, plus our stellar cast of studio engineers, photographers and others here in the United States have made this all possible. We are very happy with this new work. Now, after two recent reissue albums, we are so excited that the first new Tree People album in 26 years will see the light of day this year!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Tree People on myspace, The Tree People then and now

The Tree People are now on myspace!
Why? Another way to communicate with everybody.

On our first go round some years back, there was no myspace, no twitter, no facebook,
no internet. We just made our connections locally using the telephone, the mail, and doing a lot of things in person. Now, thanks to the internet we have been able to work with nice independent record companies, first in Japan with Tiliqua, now in Spain with Guerssen, and we have been able to start getting our music out to a wider audience.
What has not changed is live performances- there is still nothing like filling the air with music in a room or field full of kindred spirits.