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Music

Experimental Rock's Trees Speak Summon Kosmische Sensations on 'Ohms'

On their inspiring second album, Ohms, Arizona avant-garde collective Trees Speak invoke the best of expansive electronica through motorik repetitions across a sprawling masterwork.

Ohms
Trees Speak

Soul Jazz Records

3 April 2020

There is an issue with regards attempting to describe the peculiar noise of Trees Speak, as generic shorthand terms like "drone", '"imaginary soundtracks", and "psychedelia" appear disingenuous and reductive in the face of music that's tantalizingly elusive and frequently difficult to pigeon-hole.

Trees Speak are a creative nexus, hailing from Tucson and led by the visual artist Daniel Martin Diaz, who excel at a gloriously dense, giddy, and translucent type of instrumental music. Their sound anchors itself to the meditative glow and vintage mood-scape of prime movers in the orbit of the 1970's avant-garde whilst illuminating a synthesis between the earth, the cosmos, and the heavens. As serene as it's spooky, it's best consumed as one sprawling piece, with your eyes closed.

Their sophomore album, Ohms, is a delicious helping of woozy momentum stitched together from immersion in ominous synth lines, cyclical structures, and spooked psychedelic vibes. Evidently in thrall to art-house horror soundtracks as much as the space-age folk of the 1970s, Ohms spins numerous sonic plates with aplomb. This album is flecked with echoes of Italian Giallo, John Carpenter, Silver Apples, and murky sci-fi as it nods to fellow crate-diggers such as Beak and Emeralds.

"Soul Sequencer" commences proceedings with its insistent Neu! pulse and droning keyboards. That, in turn, leads to the alluring dream-scape of "Nitrous Cross", a playful bachelor-pad miniature which carries intimations of the fairytale hauntology of the Ghost Box label. The enveloping analog reverie of "Shadow Circuit" takes the menacing synths of Fabio Frizzi and imparts the cinematic elan and seething sense of eerie you might hear on the score for Stranger Things. Throughout the record is a resounding and rejoicing marriage of execution and mood, typified by pulsating melody and enthralling post-rock cadences.

It's not all bucolic awe and bubbling arpeggios, though. The spindly "Sadness in Wires" is propelled by a slinky post-punk groove, and "Nobody Knows" bludgeons the listener with a visceral assault of abstract musique concrete. "Sleep Crime" navigates an enticing daydream between free jazz squall and the languid wash of ambient, and "Spirit Duplicator" approaches the zithering synth clouds of Oneohtrix Point Never.

Ohms opts for a shimmering sky gaze psychedelia which prizes the crepuscular fog of a waking fever dream over strictly linear development and orthodox song structure. That refines and twists the band's mercurial, incantatory hymns into enterprising and monolithic shapes that snuggle close to monumental hypnagogia.

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