6 Oct 2016
Trappist Afterland - God's Good Earth
Reviewed by Shaun C Rogan
Trappist Afterland are a pagan folk ritual in sound and with their latest offering, "God's Good Earth" they once again plunge the active listener deep into the forest of past memories, generations of DNA passed through the foggy blanket of time to somehow resurface once more in 2016 in a series of beguiling, unsettling and sparse incantations.
The opening track, "God Botherings (parts 1 &2)" sets out the pathway for what follows with its gently rippling minor chord riffing and almost monastic vocals that barely raise above the acoustic guitar, cello and hand percussion that support them, endlessly asking "What good is God if you have questions that are never heard?" This dissipates into an unearthly howling of scratched strings and ghostly voices. This isn't easy listening, this is intense participatory bordering on hallucinatory songwriting, not a million miles from the seminal and highly stoned 'Moyshe McStiff' by COB, upon which much of the resurgent acid-folk scene would regard as a touchstone.
There is a restlessness and almost palpable fear and discomfort that permeates this whole record as the brief 'Sungirl' and the very psychedelic 'Parasites' would attest to. The latter in particular with its revolving searchlight of backwards-forwards hurdy gurdy and naggingly insistent rhythm opens a psychic door that leads to an exploration of uncomfortable mental spaces. What Jim Morrison memorably referred to as 'the feeling of not quite being at home'. Times several thousand. "No More Summer Caravans" is a paean to the past with a lovely drone driving the familial reminiscences (real or imagined) that provide another unsettling narrative.
"Chosen" is my personal highlight with its swirling undertow and palpable sense of foreboding attached to its tale of ritual awakening. Quite extraordinary. Some much needed sunlight is provided by the rather sweet lament of "Treehouse by the Shore" which shows a deftness and subtlety that allows us to draw a breath and contemplate what has gone before. This is followed by a similarly untethered "God Botherings part 3" which reprises the dilemma of the opening track but juxtaposes the lyrical musing in a major key, gently lilting in the breeze like a field of wild flowers. The title track brings matters to a suitable conclusion with its slow burn of child spoken poetry, cascading mellotron (I assume)and wordless tumbling harmonies. In the world of the Trappist Afterlander, if you are prepared to take their trip and examine your inner workings, you are ultimately cleansed and returned to your rightful place in the firmament. A better person for the experience of their unique sound and vision. Amen.
Digital and CD available below, LP sold out :-(