Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Month: April 2017

And Also The Trees – And Also The Trees

Definitely a front-loaded record, this one. Songs one through four get into your face with an urgency that makes you sit upright, especially the startling So This is Silence with its shouted chorus and conclusion. Talk Without Words and The Tease the Tear threaten to follow suit, but there’s a bit more space and restraint there.

Songs five through eight are precursors of the work this band is better known for through their long history: pastoral, reflective songs about love on the moors and in the gardens, the girl in the mist, true love with the rainbows, etc. Well, maybe not as twee as all that. There’s a definite darkness and a tinge of despair to a lot of AATT tracks, and these are no different really.

That said, the last four are simply not as good as the first four. They drift and ramble, and there’s certainly a lack of focus. The end track, Out of the Moving Life of Circles reins things back in for a tightly constructed closer.

Much has been made of Lol Tolhurst’s production and this band’s early association with The Cure. I can hear the latter band’s influence here, particular some of the more sombre moments of Faith or Seventeen Seconds, but And Also The Trees forge ahead with their own ideas and vision, and are hardly your typical “tribute band”.

Withal, it’s a good entry into the post-punk canon and you could do a lot worse than this record. But be heartened with the knowledge they’ve done better and they have a deep discography that just begs one to go and explore it.

Choice cuts: The Tease the Tear, So This is Silence, Talk Without Words.

AATT

Xmal Deutschland – Tocsin

his group dispensed with their Siouxsie and The Banshees imitations for their second record. Fetisch had some great moments and the low-key production gave it a real feral quality, but it wore its influences on its sleeves and every other article of clothing. It put the “d” in the word “derivative”.

With Tocsin, Xmal Deutschland go deeper into Goth territory and less into rock. The results are immediately appealing as Mondlicht is one of the finer songs from this period. Things don’t change much through the remaining eight tracks though the instrumental Xmas in Australia is an odd break from the poppy and melodic goth that pervades this record.

This album has two main problems, or three if you consider similar sounding songs an issue. Drama one is Anja Huwe’s voice. Every now and then listening to Xmal Deutschland, you wish she’d sing. Rather, she bellows. She also throws her voice at the end of every sentence. If she stopped these New Wave-isms and actually let her voice breathe, some of these songs would be raised to transcendent level. As it is, she just puts it there. I know it’s indicative of the times and places her band existed, but it’s a crying shame she just didn’t try to sing rather than shout.

The second is Mick Glossop’s even-handed production. This is another New Wave-ism and it’s the one thing that truly dates this record. Drums, synths and bass are way up the front of the mix, and the guitar buried deep down. Lo-fi as it was, Fetisch had everything up front and the result was an in your face record. Tocsin sounds like any one of a thousand albums produced at the time, which doesn’t suit this band’s strengths.

It’s a great record with mostly catchy songs, but it’s soured by Huwe’s delivery and the serene production.

Choice cuts: Mondlicht, Nachtschatten, Begrab mein Herz

tocsin

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