f you don’t believe that vinyl is the best way to listen to music, try unwrapping last December’s limited edition double LP from Trees Speak, the psychedelic, avant-garde rock group from Tucson. You almost hate to see the stylus needle scraping across the clear grooves, like devaluing a mint-condition sports car when you drive it off the showroom lot. Compare that to the experience of a CD, where you’d probably be fishing around for the digipak under a car seat. Music plus convenience equals negligence.
There’s currently no way to sample the new album except the old-fashioned way — on wax — which makes it ironic that Cinedelic Records, the Italy-based record label that is releasing Trees Speak’s album, initially discovered the project of Daniel Martin Diaz on Soundcloud.
While Diaz is the man behind Trees Speak, the music results from him playing in one room with musicians, recording live, and then editing down or splicing together whatever sounds came out. It can result in the short and catchy soundscapes like on disc one or the sprawling excursions of disc two, where one single track fills out the album’s latter two sides.
The same mindset extends to live shows, such as their upcoming set at Valley Bar on Sunday, December 23, at a benefit show for local venue The Lunchbox. Rather than play old music, Diaz and his musicians use every show as an opportunity to come up with sounds that will be authentic to the evening’s vibe.
Phoenix New Times spoke to Diaz recently about his unadulterated music and the nature of improvisation.
New Times: How did Trees Speak come about? Where would you like to see it going next?
Daniel Martin Diaz: We had no idea we were creating a record or a band when we began. It was purely a philosophical idea we had been discussing for a while. Then we began to experiment with sounds and performances. We loved the direction and let it lead us to where we are now. Our next step is to keep merging philosophy and music, which hopefully lead to more records in the future.
How did you hook up with Cinedelic? How did they hear your music?
We uploaded our songs onto Bandcamp and had them there for a month, with the idea that no one will ever care or listen to them. To our surprise, Cinedelic listened and offered to release them as a double LP. We were blown away by their catalog of music and to be included into the family was an honor for us.
Is it any less authentic knowing what you are going to play, recreating something?
Maybe at some point, we’ll lock into riffs or beats and have proper songs. But right now we are feeling our way around without any agenda. Some might hate what we do, which I personally find interesting. We live in a time where everyone is seeking a “thumbs up” and a “like.” I’m fascinated by the people who would give a “thumbs down” or a “dislike.”
You won’t be performing anything off this album, but you will be performing the same way you recorded the album?
Our philosophy right now is to try and make each live performance a unique and special moment for the audience, one that they’re uniquely experiencing with us. Trees Speak is not only about the songs on the record. It’s about the tactile experience and expression of a group of musicians and audience communicating and feeling through other means beyond words.
Lunch Money: A Benefit to Support The Lunchbox. With Trees Speak, Rotting Yellow, Lana Del Rabies, Gasol, Aon, more. 7 p.m. Sunday, December 23, at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue; valleybarphx.com. Tickets are $10 via Ticketfly.
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