Jim Coleman’s Trees is a bit like those meditative “sounds of nature” CDs, wherein the sound of a babbling brook or the love call of a mating whale is intended to cleanse the mind and soothe the soul. This Coleman release, however soothing, is not quite tranquil, as there is an ominous and foreboding measure to the sound of trees, perfectly captured in this music that is omnipresent, lumbering, and eternal. It is neo-classical Brian Eno-esque music for mood mongering.
Often, the music composes the spaces between trees as the wind gently passes through them. Soft percussive wind chimes via piano and keyboard, tinkle and glisten in a forest glade and a cello anchors the very breath and weight of an aged tree. The human voice morphs with violin and wind instrument to create an eerie sound as if ancient Druids are present to offer homage.
These 10 tracks of meditative music is post-industrial noise with a hint of jazz accents. The sonic landscape paints a picture of nature repossessing an apocalyptic catastrophe. A synth keyboard crawls over a desolate landscape as the occasional horn, violin, and voice enhance the emergence of the majestic trees. More like one piece of music over 10 tracks, the theme-titled songs—”Rain”, “Dawn”, “Summer Heat”, etc.—differentiate only slightly.
This is the first release from Coleman’s own Wax and Wane recording label. It rises above the legion of independent, ambient, producer-on-a-laptop CDs that flood the market, by creating a distinct sound that is as intriguing as it is relaxing. In composing music encompassing the life history of trees, Coleman nails what a tree might convey in a musical language. Like the numbered rings designating age in the trunk of a fallen redwood, the music encircles and solidly defines its subject.
Interpretation aside, Trees is simply a pleasing sound experience. Meditative like a mantra, it is also thoughtful in its imagery of an ancient forest boldly advancing into the unknown. Or if you just want to kick back and groove to some cool sounds, it’s absolute.