Tree Wave - Cabana+ EPAn Austin-based duo, Tree Wave is earning quite a name for itself, as much for its music as how it’s being made. Electronics wiz and musician Paul Slocum has fashioned a cluster of distinctly 80s technology into his own arsenal of instruments: a 386 PC with a dot matrix printer souped up to produce specific pitches, an Atari 2600 running Paul’s custom-programmed music software, and a Commodore 64. On the surface of it, this sounds like an act that’s going to be turning out some very twitchy, blippy music, right? You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.

In fact, Tree Wave comes off sounding like an early new wave band in an age when the songs weren’t written much differently than before, but the real novelty was in how the sounds were made. Vocalist Lauren Gray’s take on the human element in this decidedly electronic brew can range from husky to airy depending on the particular song, and it strikes just the right counterbalance to Slocum’s dense wall of sound. There are occasionally some blippy, 8-bit elements to the backing tracks, but there’s also something unexpectedly full and orchestrated about the sound – unobtrusive synth pads and decent drum sounds keep things afloat, and if you’re shaking your head at the thought of a printer as a musical instrument, listen to the anthemic opening moments of “Sleep” and think again. Slocum has found a great balance between the novelty of how he’s making the music, and the music that’s being played (not to mention that he breaks Tree Wave’s apparent mandate in the opening track, “May Banners”, with some Byrds-esque guitar work). The novelty never takes over for sheer 4 out of 4gimmickry’s sake. “Morning Coffee Hymn” and “Same” are also highlights.

Tree Wave is gaining quite a bit of attention from the music community and the media, so hopefully it’ll only be a matter of time the right label takes note and signs them for a full-length album and promotes them with a bit of tender loving care. Mainstream they’re not, but catchy they most definitely are.

Order this CD

  1. May Banners (3:43)
  2. Machines Fall Apart (3:06)
  3. Sleep (2:56)
  4. Instrumental 1b (4:00)
  5. Morning Coffee Hymn (3:38)
  6. Same (3:20)

Released by: Tree Wave
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 23:43