Cries of ‚Oh but it is such a crowded genre‘ and ‚oh do we really need another post-rock band?‘ are well-travelled journalistic speak when reviewing music of a post-rock (ugh) persuasion, which are best avoided. However, if music can affect you with no words, can words adequately explain the music? Probably not, but if that’s been the case for a lot of Mogwai, reams of This Will Destroy You, or huge swathes of Explosions In The Sky, it’s surely worth attempting at least.
If These Trees Could Talk are from Ohio, USA, and they tread a similar path to other bands who choose not to sing but choose to make noisy guitar-rock music with a firm eye on the context of their creations. Tom Fihe (bass), Jeff Kalal (guitar), Cody Kelly (guitar), Mike Socrates (guitar) and Zack Kelly (drums) create music that is all very grand and emotive, with huge soundscapes and guitar led rock-assault after assault. With their new record ‚Red Forest‘ now under their belt and being showcased here, it’s clear If These Trees Could Talk are a powerful and confident live act, who rely on their heavy, layered wall of noise in most tracks. The striking thing about many other bands in this genre is the attempt to fuse beauty with the harder edge – that beauty of sound? It’s here, but not in huge abundance as the band power towards their more fuller, rock-driven hunting grounds, though there are moments of sombre and reflective ‚calm after the storm‘ moments aplenty, a fair few e-bow drones; some rising and falling delay and reverbed chords which serve to lull you into a false sense of security before the next round of guitar, bass and drum attack which comes quickly. They don’t wait around. There is a huge element of metal edge to the band’s sound in these heavier passages, calling to mind some of the finer moments of acts such as Tool, though to a lesser degree God Is An Astronaut’s material could also be compared to many moments in ‚Red Forest‘. The album and their live show flowed extremely well, with no awkward juxtapositions into new songs and a clear drive and care for their craft.
The vinyl cover depicts a forest of trees, with a washed-out red sky behind, referring perhaps to a forest fire that rips through the heart of that space. This record sonically aims to draw you into that world and frame of mind, with tracks such as ‚Breath Of Life‘, ‚The First Fire‘ and the title track ‚Red Forest‘, and ‚When The Big Hand Buries The Twelve‘ all played tonight. Mike thanked the crowd several times for coming out ‚On an Easter Sunday‘ and that it was the ‚best Easter Sunday we’ve ever had‘, and the band came back for two encores.
It would be unfair and wrong to say that If These Trees Could Talk have come along and ‚created their own sound‘, but anyone with an appreciation of the bands in the roster of this genre could find something to shout about here; the strength of music is that it doesn’t stand alone. There’s nothing new other than someone or something new. At times it is loud and exhilarating, and at times marching towards the heaviest sound they can conjure, but the tracks they played tonight from their newer LP, and previous material ‚Above The Earth, Below The Sky‘ (2009) and their self-titled record (2006) sounded powerful and at times captivating – certainly worth further exploration.
As with other bands creating this type of music, this cannot be listened to casually on an ipod as you hop down the street. You have to immerse yourself in the audio, the visual and the journey in order to draw a real appreciation and understanding of what is trying to be conveyed, therefore live shows of this type of music can be a challenge, or indeed a bridge too far for some. However, it was and is possible to lose yourself in the music of this act if you let it happen. As Billy Joel famously remarked: ‚We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world was turning‘. If These Trees Could Talk didn’t start the fire, but they are certainly fuelling the flames.
Photos © Dianna Matthess
If These Trees Could Talk auf Deutschland-Tour:
13. April, Cassiopeia, Berlin
14. April, Druckluft, Oberhausen