"Silver Trees" is a reissue of the second CD from South African prog band, Abstract Truth. Originally released in 1970, this disc is packed with psychedelic prog-folk that takes on elements of jazz, blues, rock and a whole lot more. Fire up that bong and gather round, dudes.
Now I believe I should preface this review by stating that I'm no expert in the generally epic, frequently pretentious, and almost always ridiculous world of prog. Outside of King Crimson and a number of acts from Germany like Ash Ra Tempel (who became the awesome Ashra), prog is generally a foreign beast to me. Abstract Truth represents a side of prog I'm less familiar with-- a lighter side of the genre that makes frequent use of flute and saxophone to lighten the sometimes heavy mood of this genre. There is a very laid-back feel at work here-- a bit restless-- but ultimately "Silver Trees" is at peace with everything.
Occasionally, the band threatens to blow shit out and go full-on "I'm-tripping-balls" psychedelic, as is the case on the eight-minute title track, but they always pull back. The title track feels like free jazz at times, and the relative safety of most material here makes the adventurous nature of this particular piece pretty glaring. I found myself wondering where all of the psyche disappeared to as the album proceeded to throw hook after hook of soft folk at me. There are some pretty nice Zappa-approved solos to be heard though, and they aren't shy about using a full array of instruments. The production is quite good, giving off a rich, full sound that is very pleasing on a good pair of headphones.
Overall, "Silver Trees" is a solid album that feels a bit dated by modern standards. There are some embarrassing moments such as occasionally blunt and decidedly un-poetic lyrics that clash with the flowing instrumentation. Still, it's well-produced, and it goes down easy. It's just a little too safe. 6/10 -- Robert Oberlander (17 February, 2010)