Thursday, August 18, 2011

Perfume Tree - "Tides' Out" (LP Review)

Perfume Tree's 1997 EP "Tide's Out" was a sign of things changing for the band. For one, up until this point they had followed the standard formula of releasing an LP, and then a remix EP to complement that prior LP. "Tide's Out" is not really a remix EP for 1996's "A Lifetime Away" (that LP never received a remix release (edit: I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that; 1995's "Fathom the Sky" was the remix EP for "A Lifetime Away")), but is actually a remix EP for the "Feeler" LP that was released in 1998. More importantly, this EP signals an almost complete shift toward electronic music, a shift that "Feeler" would complete. Previous releases had always retained an organic feel, but that is almost entirely gone on this release.

In my prior review of "A Lifetime Away", I covered the story of Perfume Tree, their members, and their unfortunate lack of the success they deserved. Vancouver-based radio DJs, toiling in obscurity on the small label "World Domination Recordings", and prior to that the even smaller "Zulu Records", their sound is as fresh today as it was in the mid-1990s. The CDs are out of print, but most can be found used for decent $ (right now "Tide's Out" is going for less than $5 on Amazon).

I actually think the songs here are stronger than on "Feeler". The EP features 6 tracks (~55 minutes), but really only 3 distinct songs: 2 versions of "Blink", 3 versions of "Saturate", and "Too Late, Too Early" (which would be significantly reworked as "Too Early, Too Late" on "Feeler"). "Blink" is a rather fast, up beat song compared to most by the band. The "Black and White" version actually rocks pretty hard, complete with a hammond organ sound that the original version lacks. All three versions of "Saturate" are good, with the "20,000 Leagues" sounding, well, like it is under water. The "Full Steam" version is appropriately titled as well, driving almost as hard as "Blink (Black and White)". All six tracks are amazing.

"Tide's Out", like "A Lifetime Away" the year before, showcases the band at its creative peak. As before, the band is great, but Jane Tilley's vocals really separate the band from its peers. No connect-the-dots, formulaic electronica here. You owe it to yourself to hunt a copy of this EP, as well as the rest of their canon.

Standout songs: "Blink", "Saturate", "Too Late, Too Early", "Saturate (20,000 Leagues)", "Blink (Black And White)", "Saturate (Full Steam)"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final Score: 10/10.

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