Initially formed as a way to pay tribute to Talk Talk main man Mark Hollis, Held By Trees have soon taken on a life of their own, and from this small acorn their mighty oak has grown. The band will release two EP’s on 11th August which showcase two different sides; Solace: Live At Real World Studios was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s famous facility, while Eventide (also recorded at Gabriel’s place) is a far more intricate tapestry. Like day and night, or the yin and yang, these two EP’s fit together perfectly to create the whole picture.
Solace: Live At Real World Studios
It seems that the huge room inside Real World was built specifically for Held By Trees, and its huge acoustics are tailor made for this sextet. Such is the cavernous sound created, that this EP isn’t so much something you listen to, rather it is an experience that happens to you, and opening track ‘In The Trees’ immediately plants roots deep inside you. Solace: Live At Real World Studios found the band fresh off some live dates, and the chemistry they’ve developed has given these renditions an earthy, organic feel. For example, Andy Panayi’s woodwind instrumentation blows like a breeze through leaves, and has a free-form, jazz sensibility that wasn’t on the original yet it adds to the overall flavour and means that these aren’t carbon copies of the tracks which appeared on their debut album, Solace.
This recording is at once richly textured and also starkly minimalist. Held By Trees understand that sometimes it isn’t what you play, but what you don’t. Good art is all about leaving plenty of scope for interpretation, and this recording offers plenty of room for the listener to infer meaning. Yet the huge white spaces employed are another shade on the band’s palette, and along with rustic reds, burnt yellows and earthy browns conspire to paint a vivid picture. While you won’t find these tracks behaving in strange new ways, the live setting offers an unpredictability as these songs waver and grow.
Recorded at the same time and locale as Live At Real World Studios, the companion EP Eventide was then layered remotely by friends of project leader David Joseph. A concept record of sorts that documents the transmogrification from day to night, Eventide is a very hypnotic affair and it lulls the listener into a dreamlike, other-worldly state. First thing to note is that the guitars are more pronounced on this disc, especially on ‘Pure Sunlight’, yet you feel that there are no egos involved on Eventide, each musician is content to step forward at the optimum moment, then retreat into the shadows, and all for the greater good. Subsequently, the change that occurs throughout this disc, almost imperceptibly, perfectly mirrors that as day turns to night.
There’s plenty of magic to be found on this EP, and no more so than on ‘Grow Dark’. With the microphones turned up to the max, you can hear David Joseph’s fingers on the strings, and in the absence of any type of vocals, becomes the singer by proxy. As with its companion disc, Eventide manages to retain that live feel, and also the very essence of nature. This EP is the musical equivalent of a stroll through a forest as the singhts, sounds and smells assault your senses.
You get the feeling that Mark Hollis is looking down and smiling…
- Solace: Live At Real World Studios & Eventide are released via Sound Canyon Records on 11th August 2023.
Solace: Live At Real World Studios
- In The Trees
- Rain After Sun
- The Tree Of Life
- The New Earth
- Pure Sunlight
- The Golden Hour
- The Blue Hour
- Grow Dark