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coverpic flag US - Florida - Full Moon 211 - 11/17/13

Radical Face
The Family Tree: The Branches
Nettwerk Music Group

'I like storytelling, and wanted that to be the focus. I looked up genealogy charts and studied some American history for a frame of reference, then pulled from personal experiences and put it all together' (Ben Cooper, Radical Face).
The concepts of gathering stories and storytelling comes naturally to Ben Cooper. Before turning to music he wrote fiction, but he switched to music after a hard drive crash where he lost his two nearly completed novels... (The Nettwerk Music Group)

Ben Cooper has finally finished The Branches, part two of his The Family Tree trilogy project, as well as the accompanying The Bastards Volume Two EP, two years after The Family Tree: The Roots (plus The Bastards Volume One EP of course). Like with The Roots, Cooper continues his indeed personal path of storytelling. Once again digging deep into melancholia, unveiling his innermost thoughts and feelings, opening his diaries. This seems like therapy for Cooper. Or, is it purely fiction? Yes, of course it is. His trilogy is set to be the chronicles of a fictitious, and sometimes otherworldly, 19th century family (a story set from 1860-1910). According to Nettwerk, Cooper only '..limited the song writing to instruments that would have been accessible in that era: piano, acoustic guitar, a floor tom, and voices... only bringing in additional instruments during tracking when needed.'. As for the song writing process, Cooper has said: 'One of my favourite things about making records is that I'm never entirely sure where they'll end up. At some point in the process they take on a life of their own and start making their own demands. I think they are better for it. I'm excited to start wrapping all of it up.'

The Family Tree: The Branches presents more of the moods of Ben Cooper. He's an excellent song-writer, and (after a short prelude called "Grey Skies") "Holy Branches" shoots out, aiming, hitting perfectly. The songs swerve, curl and unfold, being naked and sparse, both as performances as well as in arrangements. "Reminders" is another fave track, as is "The Crooked Kind", "From the Mouth of an Injured Head", "Letters Home", "Chains" and... well, most of the songs making The Branches, because this is an album - a whole. 12 songs, 45 minutes. Not to be pulled and parted into bits and fragments while listening. Earphones/headphones is the ultimate experience. Open mind, open heart, open ears. Enjoy the melodic storytelling.

Again, yet another classic from Cooper's hands - not to forget mind, heart, soul, imagination, etc. It is just to look out for platter number three. The final countdown. This is music as art, at a higher level.

Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Radical Face articles/reviews: Ghost, Parkteatret, Oslo, Norway, 17 November 2015, Sunn, The Family Tree: The Bastards, The Family Tree: The Leaves, The Family Tree: The Roots.

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