Tree Wave Cabana EP +

[Made Up; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: chiptune, techno, lap-pop, glitch
Others: Max Tundra, Lineland, Lali Puna, Black Moth Super Rainbow

Hailing from Dallas, Tree Wave are a duo that have found a way to reprogram and reformat outdated computer equipment (Ataris, Commodores, and even an Epson dot matrix printer) to make their music. Their lives shows also incorporate rhythmically synced video displays, two of which are included on this EP. The concept admittedly smacks of novelty, and given the simplistic nature of Tree Wave's music, that's not totally unfair. But there's something nevertheless endearing about the whole thing.

I'm not beyond digging a little old school video game synth textures. M83's succeeded in making them not only palatable, but capable of emotional weight. I'm still waiting for someone more tech-savvy than myself to contact those in ownership of the Metroid music for remixing rights. But if you were to play Cabana without any knowledge of how the sounds were made, I think it's a safe bet that 'innovative' wouldn't be the first adjective on people's minds. Singer Lauren Gray affects a smooth, midrange vocal style reminiscent of both Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine, while sunny, fuzzy video game melodies dart around her. There is that same sort of weighty distortion that tempers the cutesy bleeps, sweeps and creeps in the vein of M83. While not wholly original sounding, these seven tunes are decidedly warm and welcoming.

This is largely due to the duo's mastery of intriguing textures, even when the emotional thrust of the progressions begin to feel a little familiarly precious. Fans of both shoegaze and retro techno should find a lot to enjoy here. "Sleep" probably provides the most memorable melody, but there is, all reservations aside, not a bum track in the bunch. There are also instructions on how to load Tree Wave's synth program onto your Commodore 64. But you definitely don't want leave this CD on and forget about it. Track seven might be a nice soothing piece of fuzzy drift, but around four minutes into the track, a piercing ring commences, supposedly the point where you're supposed to load. Those of us without a Commodore are stuck with a disc that we have to stop at track six. It's annoying, I know. But it's no reason to miss out on a great little EP. Hopefully they won't do that on their full length.

P.S. If anyone with a commodore's tried loading the program, send me an e-mail (willcoma at tinymixtapes dot com). I'd be curious to hear how it went.

1. May Banners
2. Machines Fall Apart
3. Sleep
4. Instrumental 1b
5. Morning Coffee Hymn
6. Same
7. Commodore 64 Data