1.Intro /2. The Whaler /3. Town Square /4. Mother-Of-Pearl Moon /5.This Path Through The Meadow/6.Valdrada /7. No Mountains, No Horizon /8. Visions of A Stray /9. Field After Field /10. Ypsilon /11. Away From Me

Release date: February 23, 2024

and also the trees coverThere is the world, and then there is the world seen through the sonic poems of And Also The Trees. The latter is the world that I prefer.

Mother-Of-Pearl Moon‘ comes two years after ‘THE BONE CARVER’, to mesmerise, seduce, and take our gaze away from this close-up-view of life, towards that less observed one. Like its title, its energy is lighter compared to its predecessor and looks away from Balkan and Eastern music tradition when it comes to its sources of inspiration.

The 11 songs on this album sit comfortably alongside both older songs like ‘Sea Change’ and ‘Dialogue’ and more recent ones like ‘Domed’ and ‘The Book Burners’, when it comes to their lyrics, music and overall energy. And yet, it’s been 40 years since the release of their homonymous album and 44 years since the beginning of the band. And Also The Trees continue to be curious about life and music and create fascinating dreamscapes using notes and verses, still summoning and feeling summoned by figures and nature, by cities both invisible and real, and by everyday minutiae that most of us consider insignificant.

The idea was that Nick & Graham would learn bass and drums and I would shout.” SHJ

We really need to thank the literary and musical muses that this somewhat strange combination of skills and shouting did not materialise. We must also feel grateful towards said muses for the creative spells they have put this band under all these years!

If, like me, you have watched a myriad of films and read many books where the story was set in a remote village anywhere in the world, you would feel quite confident  in suggesting that life in rural Worcestershire (where this band started) does not favour a very outward-looking approach to things –  and that nature triggers the mind in an obscure and logic-defying way. Folk horror cinema and the gothic novel would not have seen the light of the day if it weren’t for a fascination with the mysterious energy of nature and people in remote places. Following the same line of thought, it is admirable that And Also The Trees, as young people in the 1980s but also now in 2024, have consciously refrained from instilling their lyrics with political or social messages, and instead glorify the magic in the everyday fleeting moment – whether this is in nature or in an urban environment.

This is what has happened so far to this band with the bizarre name that begins with a conjunction and could well be the middle of a sentence.

Valdrada-oh this town with its alleys full of echoes and strangers…” (lyrics: ‘Valdrada‘)

If we view this band’s discography as a book, then ‘Mother-Of-Pearl Moon’ definitely feels like a new chapter that carries the storyline through.

At one moment the guitar riffs refer to the folk rock tradition of the 60s and, then engage in a cinematic tremble that release this energy by sounding like a mandolin. All this while the piano, the glockenspiel, and the clarinet sometimes take the mind to movie scenes from jazz bars in South America and other times to the atmosphere of black and white Italian neorealist films of the 50s and the music of Nino Rota. Simon, in the meantime, is left free to make our minds roam through the sinister worlds of the character he draws as he is guided, tempted, and tested by muses who at times wander along a path in a meadow, other times follow a whaler at sea before wandering through the corn-field and settling down with “…the subtle mind like a cat in the night threading softly around me…” (lyrics: ‘Mother-Of-Pearl Moon‘).

The album is constructed at a ponderous pace while a tale of two cities is being narrated through the lyrics – one invisible, Valdrada from Italo Calvino’s famous book ‘Invisible Cities’, the other very visible – through the eyes of the main character of this album as he encounters a ghostly “figure that walks like a cat, in the dark through the square, behind the door in Frith street…” (lyrics: ‘Town Square‘). At times these cities feel like one and the same, intriguingly similar to London, too.

I found the desire to stroll the familiar streets of Soho that this song’s mysterious and sinister vibes triggered in me, refreshing! It’s very rare that a song, or a whole album, creates the desire for an urban stroll with the purpose of re-discovering, even re-reading, some very familiar spots. The novels of Neil Gaiman did the same to me a few years ago.

I need to end this review by talking about the high this album creates, unlike any other they have created since the raw energy of  the end of ‘So This Is Silence‘ and ‘Dialogue‘. I don’t know how else to talk about the build-up of energy – that starts with the invocating, throbbing rhythm after 2.28 into ‘Visions of A Stray‘ and develops a minute later into a soul capturing delirium – but to compare it with a similar build up only ever experienced 4.17 into ‘The Legendary Pink Dots’ ‘Golden Dawn‘. Perhaps this is enough…I hope it is. I’m going back to listen to this track on repeat now!

But before I go: Simon, Justin, Colin, Paul – thank you for another fantastic chapter in the sonic book of And Also The Trees!



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