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Held By Trees: Solace

It would be easy to see the names of the musicians involved with Held By Trees and simply be dazzled by the array of talents. Boasting seven veterans of the seminal latter Talk Talk and Mark Hollis solo albums, other contributors include Tim Renwick (guitar - Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Eric Clapton), Mike Smith (sax - Blur, Damon Albarn, Gorillaz), David Knopfler (guitar - Dire Straits) and Gary Alesbrook (trumpet - Noel Gallagher, Kasabian, Super Furry Animals) as well as parts from blues/roots legend, Eric Bibb, Dutch rising-star, Just, and ambient composer, Unknown Replica. However, the project revolves around David Joseph, who wrote the music on this debut album and produced it, and really it should his name we are celebrating.

In truth, the above cast list barely touches the sides of the amount of musicians invited to come onboard an album where improvisation around the central construction was the motivation behind all eight instrumental pieces. The tag that’s been applied here is post-rock, but with progressive and jazz leanings, and if Talk Talk are the originators of that post-rock sound, then that’s probably a fair description. Tone, feel, mood and setting are the key aspects pushing and pulling everything gently into place, muted trumpet and piano as likely to set the scene for “The Tree Of Life” as guitar and drums do on “In The Trees”. The results maintain an incredibly high standard where the stripped back patience of what’s placed in front of the listener cleverly disguises the complexity of the music itself. The idea from here is for these compositions to then be taken on the road and allowed to evolve and expand as they do so, Solace seen as a mere starting point for what it contains, and considering how involving it is, that’s really quite some prospect.

However, you’re not being asked to buy, or stream, or whatever, the live experience, so it’s just as well that Solace really is a stunning piece of work from start to finish. Poised without ever being over polished, the results - over time - really do draw you in to a world where the pieces consistently hit home time and time again, even if the only track where you could suggest that there’s an energetic groove to latch a hold of is the closing piece, “The New Earth”, which really is quite the payoff. Therefore it is worth reemphasising that this is far from an immediate album that lets go of all its charms at first glance, and it’s all the better for it.

If you spot a theme in the title of the tracks and this album’s artwork - trees, waves, rain and new Earths being referenced often - it confirms that this album is a Climate Positive Music release where a tree is planted for every physical copy sold. A good sentiment indeed and something more bands and labels should be doing. However, what really matters is that Solace is quite magical from start to finish and as opening statements go, they don’t get much better.

Track Listing
1. Next To Silence
2. In The Trees
3. Rain After Sun
4. Wave Upon Wave
5. An Approach
6. The Tree Of Life
7. Mysterium
8. The New Earth

Added: September 8th 2022
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Held By Trees on facebook
Hits: 1456
Language: english

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Held By Trees: Solace
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-09-09 03:41:39
My Score:

Here is an intriguing project, especially for those familiar with the band Talk Talk. Held By Trees is an English band with many connections to the aforementioned Talk Talk, featuring former members and a similar musical ideology. No fewer than seven musicians have ties to that band. The album is titled Solace, featuring improvised field recordings applied over a backbone of creative rhythmic patterns and rhythms. Similar in construction to the excellent Talk Talk albums Laughing Stock and Spirit Of Eden.

Gentle strings and slowly evolving piano are mixed with caresses of flute and clarinet in the extremely pretty album opening “Next To Silence”, a tune laden with calming serenity. The mellow art rock of the title track where deep bass notes and swaths of textural guitar exemplifies the band’s detailed soundscapes. Next is “Rain After Sun” with its interesting chord structures and beautiful saxophone courtesy of Mike Smith. The short and gentle “Wave Upon Wave” is an acoustic guitar piece while “An Approach” adds a huge Church organ to David Joseph’s acoustic guitar. Robbie McIntosh adds some wonderful guitar phrasings to the sparsely played “Mysterium” before the album ends with “The New Earth” where sax, flute, clarinet, and guitar intermingle in a most intriguing way. This one has a little more punch than the previous tracks.

What you have to remember with Solace is its very mellow nature. The band have a definite nuanced approach that requires the listener to fully concentrate on the task at hand. When you do, the album’s intricacies should unfold before your senses making for a more rewarding listen. Recommended.

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