Norway - Full Moon 191 - 04/06/12
It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 34
Truls And The Trees: Ailanthus
(2007 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0034.CD)
Kåre João: 2
(2005 Jester Records TRICK-034)
Welcome to round 34 in the label showdown series between Metronomicon Audio and Jester Records!
Since we've more or less totally missed out on reviewing the output of these two great labels, we are going
through their entire catalogues, matching the releases from each label consecutively against each other.
Humorously counting goals
and giving out yellow
and red cards, soccer style -
but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see
The Ailanthus CD is presented in a double fold-out cardboard package with a poster of Truls in a scout uniform.
The Kåre João release comes in a CD jewel case with a booklet with art & info.
Truls is Truls Heggero from Lukestar. The Trees are
Henrik Kamphus (drums), Rudi Simmons (bass), Stian Brennskag (accordion, vocals), Vegard Syrstad (synth), Fridtjof A. Lindeman (shaker, tambourine), Helene Johansen (vocals), and Dag Stiberg (saxophone).
Including from the Metronomicon gang: Magnus Moriarty™ (violin, drums, synth), Marius Ergo (bouzouki), Thomas Meidell (saw, vocals), and of course Sissyfus (organ, clarinet, vocals).
Ailanthus is mainly Heggero's project, he has written all songs and does the main vocals in addition to playing guitar and keyboards.
Heggero insists on singing in a falsetto voice a lot of the time, and there's nothing wrong with that, a lot of fine artists and bands do,
but you always run the risk of being disliked for it. My tolerance level for falsetto singing is much lower with indie pop than with for instance prog rock,
so I have to admit that listening to this album is a testing experience for me. Also, the first real song here, "Upside Journey"
brings up memories from my younger days, from that fatal day I bought an Haircut 100 album,
which stood out as the definitely uncoolest LP in my collection for a long time, until I got rid of it, credibility restored. Of course, TatT's sound is much
more up-to-date but again very conform to a typical indie-sensibility.
Magnus Moriarty™'s violin playing is nice, but in the up-tempo songs (as most of them are), this too
tends to become tiresome. That said, some songs stand out from the rest, like the slower ballad of "Greenfields, Greenfields!", with
a very nice melancholy melody built on an equally fine chord progression, quite a pearl, that I don't mind hearing many times over.
The slower and more atmospheric "Mystixxx" is also beautiful, but the biggest surprise is the blues-swaggery theme of
"9 Is On Your Mind", which almost gets my head nodding. "Longyear" is calm enough, an eventless but nice oasis among the rest of the songs here
that unfortunately falls too deep into a pool of whimsical, semi-quirky and half-frantic indiepop.
Ending the album is "Topquark Journey To The Center Of The Universe", probably a Sissyfus remix, adding
those dreaded casio blippy-blops, a rather unnecessary addition to the album.
To sum it up: In spite of my general dislike of the falsetto-indie formula of Truls and the Trees, they serve up some fine songs when
slowing down, and especially "Greenfields, Greenfields!", which almost alone saves the album from becoming rather mediocre, song-writing wise.
To the indie hipsters: I don't know what I'm talking about, go check out the album yourselves.
Seems like Kåre Pedersen (Kåre and the Cavemen and Euroboys) on this album
is more permanently joined by Anders Bortne (Whopper - vocals, guitar), as they are both listed as songwriters on
many of the tracks. But a lot of other folks are also helping: Kristian von Streng (keyboards),
Johan Fodstad Larsen (keyboard, percussion),
Kasper Trolle Pedersen (guitars, harmonica),
Rolf Erik Nystrøm (Poing, Zanussi Five - saxophone),
Sigve Høghaug (guitars),
Dag F. Gravem (Kåre and the Cavemen and Euroboys, bass, guitars),
Joakim Asprusten (guitars),
Lars Kristian Gulbrandsen (bass),
Peter "Bosse" Boström (Hellride, Blood Tsunami, Brut Boogaloo - guitars),
Bernt Thomas Bortne (backing vocals),
Liva Tveit (backing vocals),
Tore Gjedrem (Beyond Dawn, Oslo Athletico, Ost & Kjex, Jazztobakk - backing vocals).
Together they start out with the catchy "Don't Don't", somewhere in between stoner rock and pop psychedelia,
while "Jupiter In Flux" is lush soft rock with a jazzy saxophone solo. "The Rats" surprisingly goes electronica,
reminding me of Air, but a little lackluster and not matching the French duo's best songwriting. After these three
opening tracks, the album takes a turn towards space rock, both "Too Soon, Too Fast" and "TV Dreamy" are based
around simple repeating themes, with a little more heaviness these could be Hawkwind songs, as both end up
a little on the light side. The even simpler "Nocturnal Offline Transactions" continues in the same vein,
ending up very percussive and uneventful. Then the album shifts into a slower section, serving up
a row of lazy ballads inspired of late 60's psych and 70's soft rock, of which only "Kaleidoscope Street"
spurs any interest with me, reminding me of a fellow Norwegian psychedelians Sister Rain, less guitar-dominated though.
Ending the album is "Love Each Other", with all-we-need-is-love lyrics. The guy singing the ever-repeating chorus line of "everybody I love you"
here seems to be a very different person from the guy pointing a gun at you on the cover of Captain Trips, Kåre João's
first single. But it's a nice finish.
To sum it up: This album spreads out in different directions, but apart from the opening tracks, the songwriting seems
a little uninspired. Unfortunately, neither the arrangements nor the production make up for this, only occasionally
creating a really interesting listening experience. Nevertheless an OK and varied psychedelia inspired album.
Match result: Metronomicon Audio 6 () - Jester Records 3 ()
Next head-to-head meeting is the Lower Than Lo-Fi, But Higher album No Need For Ladders from Metronomicon Audio which is up against
the Bogus Blimp release Rdtr from Jester Records.
Copyright © 2012 Knut Tore Breivik