fibreforms: Treedrums

One of the more fascinating pleasures offered by Treedrums concerns the opportunity to hear KILN before it evolved into the outfit that produced Dusker and Thermals: Treedrums, you see, was largely recorded in 1995 (and released in 1996 on Earthtone) when Clark Rehberg III, Kevin Hayes, and Kirk Marrison operated under the name fibreforms. And so what we're presented with is the group at a nascent stage in its development when its sound more legitimately warranted a label such as post-rock. To put it even more precisely, the album provides a document of KILN prior to its metamorphosis (astutely coined by Infraction) from “live performance trio to sound-art synergists.” Whereas the group's recent music treats texture as equal in importance to melody (some might argue more important), the fibreforms material emphasizes melody and live feel over texture to a greater degree.

Compared to the work KILN would later release, the eleven tracks on Treedrums (the previously unreleased “Kineis” and “Corianna” were recorded months after the original album release date and thus appear on Treedrums for the first time) are more conventional in presenting formally structured compositions in arrangements designed around a guitar (electric and acoustic)-bass-drums setup. The music foreshadows the group's later sound, however, in its incorporation of electronic treatments and textures (though, for the record, it should be noted that the original material was re-amped and rebuilt by TJ Martin for the new release), and these early pieces already exemplify the fastidiousness and surgical attention to detail that would become trademarks of the KILN sound. The lilting “Blood,” for example, receives a boost not only from its acoustic guitar strums and ethereal electric guitar treatments but also the presence of Brady Millard-Kish's double bass playing. Prodded by acoustic guitar arpeggios, the later “Corianna” lilts even more pronouncedly, with this time bassoon croak by Mark Williams worked into the mix.

Whereas some tracks, with their rainshowers of cymbals, drums, and guitars, situate themselves within post-rock territory, others see the group anticipating its eventual move away from the style and towards something more abstract. The group threads in moments of ambient-like serenity (“Aubade”) amidst rhythmically charged pieces such as “Kineis” (perhaps the one track that, in its heavy focus on texture and atmosphere, most strongly anticipates KILN's later sound) and the hard-hitting “Soaring... ” Certain tracks stand out as especially lovely, foremost among them “Untitled Bright Format,” with its warm, crystalline flow of electric guitar shimmer and drums, and the also dreamlike “Ore Corymb,” which merges energized drumming with guitar textures by Charlie Nash.

Don't let the fact that the original material was recorded in 1996 mislead you into thinking that Treedrums (issued in a numbered edition of 300 copies) is not an essential part of the KILN story. What's perhaps most remarkable of all is how fresh and contemporary the fifty-three-minute collection sounds; even though there is a greater emphasis on melody and a more conventional band presentation, the music has KILN written all over it and therefore offers a great deal of listening pleasure to the long-time fan.

May 2014