||IF THESE TREES COULD TALK
(Metal Blade Records)
Release Date: 27th January 2015 (re-release)
Luke 'Loki' Milne
It's review number two of If These Trees Could Talk, and it's time to turn our attention to the band's follow-up album, 2012s 'Red Forest', re-released today (27th January 2015). With the opening chords of 'Breath Of Life' creeping into the foreground, I find myself yet again welcomed into the open arms of the colourful and intriguing world painted so vividly by the post-rock act.
True to form, the band follow their debut release with yet another atmospheric, slick and sensual musical journey. The 'Variation On A Theme' style of their previous release returns and is a most welcome element, once again creating an overall experience that is progressive and evolutionary across the albums nine tracks, weighing in at a total play-time of just over 45 minutes.
The flexibility of ITTCT is undoubtedly present here in 'Red Forest', as the band expand further on their musical content and ideas. Where perhaps their previous release caught my attention most in the ever-changing passages of guitar work, the most interesting element for me in 'Red Forest' is the percussive work.
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It may be that I wasn't listening out for it the previous release, but there are some interesting rhythmic patterns displayed in tracks like 'The First Fire' and 'Aleutian Clouds' that catch my attention above the melodic work. The back-line of a band is often overlooked by many music fans in my opinion, hidden underneath the veil of distorted guitars and melodic distractions. Here in 'Red Forest', however, it seems to jump into the foreground, creating a rhythmic foundation that accentuates the melodic values of each track, creating an earthy, almost tribal feel.
That's not to say that the melodic work of 'Red Forest' is forgettable; far from it, in fact. Yet again ITTCT have weaved an intricate, living melodic experience that is coloured with change and vast influence, from distorted passages of tension and grandeur to clean, euphoric breaks of reverberating and delayed calm. Once again, the Ohio Post-Rockers present to me a broad and well-rounded experience that never seems to stay still and never ventures into dull territory.
In my review of 'Above The Earth, Below The Sky' I made reference to a likeness between one of the album's tracks and a popular piece of film music, John Murphy's 'In A House, In A Heartbeat'. Within 'Red Forest', the most obvious connection I can make is in the album's mid-point track 'They Speak With Knives'.
The track features a clean, delayed melodic phrase that in many ways calls to mind the works of Minimalist artist Steve Reich, most notably the three-part piece 'Electric Counterpoint'. It may seem a bit of a stretch to some, but there's definitely elements of this ilk that are present in my mind while listening, and certainly stands out as a strong track within the album.
Yet again I find myself toying with the matter of the instrumental nature of the band's work. There's a part of me that would love to hear some "bleeding hearts" style vocal work, or some impressive and emotional lead guitar work, if only to avoid the album becoming simple background noise.
While the album does a fine job of maintaining interest, there's a part of me that wonders just how different the experience would be if the music was vocalised and given a form of lyrical poetry. I'll leave that question open for debate, as it's really down to personal preference. I'd certainly be keen to hear people's thoughts on this.
So to sum it up, what do we have here? In truth, If These Trees Could talk have thoroughly impressed me with both albums. They've certainly found their style and seem comfortable moving freely within it. It's hard for me to pick one album above the other, as both 'Above The Earth, Below They Sky' and 'Red Forest' stand tall and memorable as musical releases, both collectively and independently.
The 'story' that is told within each album is captivating, breathtaking and thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, to say the very least. I must say that from a personal perspective it seems a strong move from Metal Blade Records to present fans with a reminder of the band's material ahead of their upcoming release, and I'm certainly looking forward to their third studio album with baited breath.
Click here for the review of 'Above The Earth, Below The Sky'...