If These Trees Could Talk
Science of Silence Records
19 March 2012
by Ruth Booth
Remember, as a kid, looking at clouds and trying to make them into things, like animals, or dinosaurs, or huge castles and cities? Red Forest, the second album from If These Trees Could Talk, is a pretty piece of post-rock daydream. If you’re prepared to invest a little of your time first.
Unlike your Pelicans and your ISIS’s (ISISI? ISII?), Red Forest is full of shimmering experimental rock that hovers somewhat left of the centre of your attention. Oh, you’re busy looking at cat pictures on the internet? That’s okay, we’ll just be over here waiting. Strum, strum, BLANGALANGALANGALANGAH… Oh sorry, were you just in the middle of something? .. ANGALANGALANGALANG… No, it’s cool, we can be quiet too. See? WiddleliddleliddleliddleliddleBLANGALANGALANGALANG…
The effect is something of a primaeval filter. ‘The First Fire’ is a walk through proto-earth, while the jogging rhythm of ‘They Speak With Knives’ is layered with sliding wet window music. Touchstones include echoes of early *shels (‘Barren Lands of the Modern Dinosaur’) or even Circa Survive (‘The Aleutian Clouds’), albeit in a more stripped down form. Genre aficionados will be unsurprised to learn that ITTCT are alumni of The Mylene Sheath label. And, understandably, some have touted Red Forest as a gateway to the likes of fellow post-rock instrumentalists Red Sparrowes and Maybeshewill.
Listen to ‘Barren Lands Of A Modern Dinosaur’ by If These Trees Could Talk:
Unfortunately here’s where the problem lies. That same gentle, nudging quality that makes it such a great introduction to heavier shoegaze also means it makes for great background music, an interesting flavour to your day. Sort of like salt – not essential, though it may make your chips a darn sight tastier. The flipside of this is that, while Red Forest is hardly passive or bland, it’s easy to get distracted and tune out . Meanwhile, fans of this side of the post-rock / post-metal divide may find parts of it rather too familiar for Red Forest make a lasting impression of its own.
Not to damn it with faint praise, Red Forest is a well-crafted, rather pleasant fifty minutes of travelling tunes for the discerning post-apocalyptic survivor. However, it’s no gamechanger, and if you’re not a huge fan of unassuming post-rock to start with, then this is unlikely to change your mind. If yours is open, on the other hand, then Red Forest can give a perspective on your day that you might not otherwise come across.
Just as it’s easy to miss that the title reads almost as a statement: the Red Forest surrounds the remains of Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant, the tinted and irradiated trees cut down after the disaster. And like here, when all is said and done, sometimes it’s better to let the story tell itself, without pushing the message.
Sounds Like: Red Sparowes, Maybeshewill, *shels.
Standout Tracks: The First Fire, The Aleutian Clouds, Left To Rust and Rot.