This is the 1st review for our last album! Many thanks to the nice folks at The Equal Ground!
Skeleton Trees Structure 24 – Opus 1
4.0 out of 5
By Ted Rogen
Skeleton Trees is a self-described dark wave band hailing from Montreal, Canada. The band originally formed in 2007 and went through a number of lineup changes before getting settled. Currently the band consists of Alice Morrison on vocals, J. Bannon on electric guitar, keyboard and programming, Jean-David Brouillette on electric bass and Ian D’Amours on drums. Over a two-year period Skeleton Trees have been working on Structure 24. The project grew and grew and eventually they had 24 songs. They made a good logical decision to break the album in two pieces called Opus 1 and Opus 2. I had the pleasure of listening to Opus 1, which combines dark textures and tones not unlike that of a band like Portishead or even Massive Attack.
Over the course of the 12 songs they sometimes sound like a couple of people playing in a room together and other times sound like more than the sum of their parts. They utilize dark-sounding lead synths, distorted bass, organic drums and a variety of other elements to make music that sounds dark but not depressing. It’s a dark energy that feels like you can have fun observing it while not having to actually experience it. It’s kind of like the difference between someone watching a violent movie and enjoying it compared to actually being in a gunfight. What’s most unique about the album is that they chose to sing some of it in French and some in English. While they aren’t the first band to do this it adds some diversity to the album and it didn’t take away anything from the music that I don’t understand French.
The album starts off with the excellent “Ensorcelé,” which creates a vast circus of sounds that build but is ultimately carried by the vocal performance of Morrison. They go out of their way to make interesting textures such as combining ethereal background vocals with a mixture of synths that make a very tantalizing concoction of sounds. “Exhibition” constructs an industrial type electronic beat that drives a factory of sounds. The distorted tones are just dirty enough to give a dark tone but don’t overwhelm the music.
One of the highlights of the album is “L’épave des Songes,” which treats the vocals with additional saturation and combines complicated percussive pattern with heavily distorted bass.Despite their dark atmosphere some of the songs feel quite poppy, even peppy, such as the excellent “At Dawn” which sounds like a combination between Asobi Seksu and Portishead. Opus 1 offers a lot of sounds listeners can immerse themselves in, well-written songs and some very solid vocal performances. If you are a fan of Darkwave this should be a no brainer.
Have a nice day!