And Also The Trees
Established in 1979 in a small village in Worcestershire, England and inspired by the ideology of a still-developing post-punk movement, And Also The Trees from their very beginnings were different. Unlike more urban contemporaries such as PIL, Joy Division and The Gang Of Four, And Also The Trees were influenced almost exclusively by the landscape and history of the rural environment that surrounded them - an influence that has remained throughout their entire existence to this day.
Learning to play their instruments as they composed, their first recordings were raw and naive but powerful and original enough to attract the attention of The Cure who invited them to tour with them (in 1980, 81 and 84) and who produced their self released mini album 'From under the hill' (Robert Smith) and their first, self-titled, full album (Lol Tolhurst), released in 1983. The album caught the attention of John Peel for whom they recorded a session, which no doubt helped all their early singles into the indie charts.
Those recordings reflected their early, tentative post-punk roots, but it was with 1986's seminal Virus Meadow - an album of rich, pagan melancholy and disturbing laments - and the resulting European tours, that And Also The Trees truly found their own identity. Their fans became enraptured by the dramatic, poetic nature of their work.
Subsequent albums The Millpond Years (1988), Farewell To The Shade (1989) and Green Is The Sea (1992) continued in this rich, creative, and influential vein elevating And Also The Trees to an almost mythical status in some European countries, particularly France but also Germany, Belgium and Switzerland where their audiences have always shown great loyalty. They also introduced the band to transatlantic audiences for the first time via a highly successful US tour in 1991.
The release of 1993's The Klaxon, however, saw the beginning of a new chapter for And Also The Trees.
The esoteric, rural influences were replaced by a 50's beat-group feel, still challenging and lyrical but somehow more urbane. The twanging guitars, Morricone trumpets and growling organs punctuating a trilogy of releases including Angelfish (1996) and Silver Soul (1998).
It was a rare occasion when the band made a calculated, creative decision rather than letting their musical instincts guide them. It was an attempt to prevent themselves from being trapped by their unique sound and style. Artistically commendable perhaps, but it alienated too many of their fan base and with the live music scene increasingly dominated by DJ's and Brit-pop 'And also the trees' began to fade from view.
1998 to 2003 was a period of change and contemplation. The band moved away from their Worcestershire roots and became geographically separated. No live shows or new releases gave rise to rumours of a split. But in truth, the band were biding their time, waiting for their muse to return with something akin to a more honest and contemporary styling.
Further From The Truth, their 2003 album, is a testimony of the timeless quality of And Also The Trees and their music, something of a rebirth that developed into a true renaissance with their Tenth album '(listen for) The Rag and Bone Man' which came out in November 2007 and received the best critical reviews of the band existence.
In June 2009 they released 'When The Rains Come', an acoustic album of songs from throughout their history stripped down to the bare bones and presented with remarkable poise and simplicity. A measure of the albums success and the bands reemergence was reflected not only by the positive press but in their first full tour of France for 15 years and some prestigious shows in Germany including a memorable performance in Berlin's Temporary kunsthalle as part of internationally renown artist John Boch's extraordinary curation.
Their most recent release 'Hunter not the hunted' continues the compelling evolution of this rare band at what appears to be a creative peak. The journalist and biographer Alexandre Francois who is currently writing a book about 'And also the trees' summed them up by saying ''It's not the fact that they have been in existence and making records (on their terms) for over 30 years that makes them extraordinary, what makes them different is the discovery that their most recent works are masterpieces''.