This is the first release from Tree Wave, a two piece band from Texas that makes pop songs using obsolete computer and video game equipment as instruments. Paul Slocum codes the music primarily on an Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Compaq 286, and Epson dot matrix printer, and Lauren Gray adds lush vocals. Their sound is often compared to Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine.
The Cabana EP+ includes 7 tracks and 2 videos that can be played on most computers. The last audio track includes Tree Wave's own Commodore 64 synthesizer program in audio format that can be loaded onto your own C64 via a Commodore Datassette tape unit. You can sample the tracks May Banners and Sleep below:
You can learn more about Tree Wave by visiting their website here. If you'd like to learn more about some of the great work Paul Slocum has done on old Atari, Commodore, and other systems, please visit his personal website at Qotile.net.
My favorite tracks are "May Banners" and "Sleep", which happen to be available on their website so you can check them out before deciding to buy the album.
Track 7's titled "Commodore 64 Data Track (Do Not Listen!)", but you actually can listen to it as only 4:00 on comprise the data, which is the synth program that Paul uses on the Commodore 64. Save the data portion(4:00 to end) onto cassette and pop in into your datasette for some retro fun.
Also included are a couple music videos, Combat and Sleep. Combat is a neat tune that's not part of the CD. The video is created by a hacked version of Atari's original pack-in, Combat. Sleep is one of my favorite tracks from the album - for this video you're presented with a split screen view of the Atari, Lauren, the printer and 64 for a slick visual experience.
Paul Slocum weaves the sounds of these machines together like silk. The music that results is smooth and flowing, even ambient at times. The more rhythmic tracks like "May Banners" contain the same subtly smooth elements that define the other songs. In addition, Lauren Gray adds her smoky vocal touch to most of the recording. Her words drift in and out of the music, sometimes unintelligible, which is completely befitting the kind of sonic textures that she is complimenting.
"May Banners," with it's bouncing rhythm and playful bass riff, is easily the strongest track on the CD, but this is not to say that the remaining songs are throwaways. Another highlight of the collection include "Machines Fall Apart" which ends so gently that I almost forget that these are instruments created with 20 year old computers. "Instrumental 1b" is the ambient highlight of the CD, opening with a gentle wave of ever-shifting arpeggios that introduce the main theme.
Therein lies the beauty in Tree Wave's music. While the instruments the band uses are non-traditional, the focus is not on the instruments themselves but rather the sound that they create.
As an additional bonus, which is gratifying for any of us who have been following and collecting Tree Wave's output since "May Banners" was just a demo sans vocals and guitars, they have included two movies of video material that further emphasize the band's aesthetic just in case in isn't entirely clear.
While I'd love to keep Tree Wave all to myself and never tell anyone about them, I just can't keep quiet. This is a super-sexy band and with the coolest instruments around, DAWs be damned. Give Tree Wave a listen.