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