HELD BY TREES – Eventide / Solace – Live At Real World

Sound Canyon 2023

A binary look at existential dilemmas from mirror men who believe that party can’t be over.

Eventide /
Solace – Live At Real World

This arboreal ensemble’s oeuvre may seem understated, yet they arguably are one of the most important instrumental troupes to emerge from England in recent years pay a tribute to the late Mark Hollis by means of their own music and turn such an oxymoron into an impressively vital method. Originally a studio project masterminded by David Joseph and implemented by those who took part in creating music which inspired their band, the only thing the collective lacked to actualize it all was taking their tunes to the stage, and the group met the public for the first time in October 2022. Strange, then, that, instead of capturing the moving performance in front of the audience, the artists decided to bring the best pieces, tested in concert, back into the four walls and run through the picks once again, in the course of a day, dedicating the next day to preserving for posterity their freshly composed melodies. What the sextet eventually delivered are a couple of EPs: one called “Solace – Live At Real World” and the other “Eventide” – a pair of records to render the listener breathless.

Solace – Live At Real World

As the title of the former suggests, the previously released numbers the veterans chose for this enterprise had arrived on the band’s debut album, and the studio they entered was Peter Gabriel’s famous establishment – two factors which, combined, could result in a sterile, clinical sound, but the ensemble, being aware of that, easily solved the issue by simply playing the selected tracks. Playing together, with no overdubs – and no rawness either – while adding, reducing or changing certain lines here and there, and though it’s tempting to compare old and new versions of the stark "Mysterium" – the collective’s early single – it wouldn’t make a lot of sense because the five cuts on offer have a different life now. Of course, “In The Trees” doesn’t lose an iota of the initial shimmer woven by Laurence Pendrous’ piano, yet the rustle of Paul Beavis’s cymbals and the robust beat of his drums help create a rustic, as opposed to merely pastoral, atmosphere – the vibrant air where the notes of Andy Panayi’s flute flutter free. Further on, the delicate winging of the group’s leader and Robbie McIntosh’s guitars infuses the expanded “Rain After Sun” with anxious expectancy and carves serrated riff and tasty twang to let the solemn “The Tree Of Life” reach for heaven where slivers of James Grant’s bass hang heavily – the veil will be lifted once the sax-spiced “The New Earth” switches to jovial tempo.

HELD BY TREES – Eventide

In its turn, “Eventide” introduces a concept via arranging the five compositions into a dawn-to-dusk order, beginning with the effervescent “Pure Sunlight” whose barely-there ripples gradually become tangible as the strings bulge to meet the groove, logically involving the briefer-than-a-minute elegy of “The Blue Hour” and ending with “Nightfall” where steady tempo and strum are contrasted by a gentle woodwind and well-grounded keyboards. However, “The Golden Hour” where solid bottom-end is balanced with ethereal reeds and graceful ivories flows in to unburden anybody’s mind and allow their soul to dance as if there’s no tomorrow, before the acoustically sculpted, tender “Grow Dark” exposes fingers’ touch on fretboards and progresses to electrified, dynamically astounding grandeur: a rare event in out troubled era.

Thanks to this ensemble beauty and wonder of “Spirit Of Eden” shall never expire.

Note: the EPs are available on separate CDs; their combo is released only on vinyl.


May 25, 2023

Category(s): Reviews
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