One thing that I enjoy about music is that it can take you on a journey. Similar to a good book, a band can place you in entire worlds, allowing your imagination to run free. The post-rock instrumental band from Akron, Ohio, If These Trees Could Talk, takes the listener on a journey though a simultaneous bleak, ethereal, and sometimes hopeful journey on their latest album, Red Forest.
Long sustained notes and a droning sound set up the introduction track, “Breath of Life” that seamlessly transitions into “The First Fire”. From there, there is a healthy mix of clean arpeggios drenched in delay that are often complimented by simple yet heavy, pounding riffs. The trio of guitarists (Jeff Kalal, Cody Kelly, and Michael Socrates) do a fantastic job intertwining the guitars to build up a lush, sometimes relaxing, and sometimes foreboding soundscape. The rhythm section of Zack Kelly on drums and Tom Fihe on bass, help drive the songs along on a strong rhythmic backbone.
On songs like “Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur” and “The Aleutian Clouds”, they tend to invoke a sense of spring and autumn,walking through the forests as the leaves are blooming or turning crimson and orange only to fall and coat the ground, only to end up at the vast majesty of the mountains and canyons of the earth. Similar to how Agalloch (mostly off of The Mantle) can invoke a sense of the seasons, usually winter. And on “Left to Rust and Rot” it feels like that a scene of a sunrise on an open field, the sun shining through a dying, leafless tree onto a rusted tractor, halfway sinking into the mud, and a run down, abandoned farm house should be playing.
While songs like “Red Forest” and “When the Big Hand Buries the Twelve” invoke more of a feeling of despair and loss, with a tinge of hope, are more suited on a post-apocalyptic film soundtrack, like 28 Days Later (especially the “East Hastings” track by Godspeed You! Black Emperor) or the Road. In fact, If These Trees Could Talk are featured in the trailer for the video game, inFAMOUS, which has a post-apocalyptic setting. The song (“Malabar Front”) came not from their current album, Red Forest, but from their self-titled EP. Although, it certainly shows that they fit well into that sub-genre of film and video game.
These songs of mood and journey can often be pretty monotonous with their similar song structure, heavy use of delay, clean arpeggios with the occasional heavy riff. This really isn’t a knock on the band; this style of post-rock tends to be more rewarding if you don’t pay attention to the music. This album is meant to just carry you off, preferably while you’re laying down with your eyes closed in a darkened room or perhaps reading a book. Or driving into the countryside, letting the horizon of decaying skyscrapers fall further below the horizon as you make your way toward a safer, more idyllic place to live.
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