Trees Speak – self-titled

Trees Speak – self-titled

On its surface, this 15-track album from a band which appears to originate from the vicinity of Phoenix, AZ is a deeply obscure post-rock experiment, with Trees Speak referencing ensembles that some of you may have heard of (the coincidentally German groups Cluster, Harmonia and Neu!) and others that are certainly unknown to me until now (Beak, Suuns and Föllakzoid). I wouldn’t ever presume to an expertise in German music, and apart from Neu! there are few Deutsche bands whose influence I would recognise easily, excepting that of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. After listening to Trees Speak I can hazard guesses as to what sort of performances Beak and Föllakzoid are capable of, and they also quote the little known although highly influential Silver Apples as an influence. Most tellingly, Trees Speak’s bassist Gabriel Sullivan was a member of Giant Sand, alongside a phone book’s worth of other musical luminaries. And before you begin to anticipate songwriting of the Howe Gelb variety, it needs stating that Trees Speak are very definitely musicians of the eclectic and improvisational sort, rather than actual songwriters.

It isn’t just about the music, however. Leading band member Daniel Martin Diaz is also a very accomplished artist, and making music with Trees Speak is what he does when he isn’t creating intricate drawings or murals for airports, and suchlike. His former project Blind Divine’s music found its way into wildlife documentaries and other programs, so it is quite possible that you have already experienced something of his work, albeit subliminally, and if you actually want to own a copy of the Trees Speak album then you may need to be quick as it is being released in a limited vinyl edition and I’m currently unsure as to exactly how available it is going to be in other formats.

What those fifteen tracks actually are is a series of mainly-improvised instrumentals and sound collages, filled with sound effects, backwards guitar riffs and rattling percussion. Drummer Julius Schlosburg seems to be at the centre of much of the Trees Speak group sound, while the combined guitar and synth interplay of Daniel Martin and the similarly named Damian Diaz provides counterpoint amongst the variably effect filled and raw production sound. The combination of minimal and repetitive rhythm tracks and assorted sound effects is one which quite a large number of other artistes have utilised, and Trees Speak are particularly good at making these competing elements work, as you might expect given their combined amount of experience and talent.

Regardless of the how and why of Trees Speak and their music, Daniel Martin Diaz and his cohorts have given us an album of post-rock thermodynamics which is also accessible. While the music relies on repetition to a certain extent, Trees Speak seem to avoid actually repeating themselves throughout what is actually a double album, at least in its vinyl form. Fans of post-rock, ’70s German prog rock and Giant Sand will all find something worthwhile amongst Trees Speak’s sprawling, frenetic instrumental soundscapes. Expect to hear one or more of these gathered tracks on an urban wildlife documentary soundtrack in the not too distant future.