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The Sound of Trees - Schnell Fenster

1. Whisper. 2. Love-Hate Relationship. 3. Sleeping Mountain. 4. That's Impossible. 5. This illusion. 6. Lamplight. 7. The Sound of Trees. 8. White Flag. 9.Long Way Away. 10. Skin the Cat. 11. Run-a-Mile. 12. Never Stop.

Philip Judd-vocals, guitars, keyboards. Michael den Elzen-guitars, keyboards. Nigel Griggs-bass. Noel Crombie-drums.

I had high hopes for this one, as three of the members (Judd, Crombie and Griggs) were founder members of Split Enz, which I always thought was an interesting, enjoyable band.

Alas, none of that's really evident here. While listening, my thought was, “Wow, they really have that 'eighties sound' down cold.” (Turns out the album was recorded in 1989.) But the songs also lack much in the way of melody, catchiness or personality. As much as I can make out the words, they're not insightful, funny or clever. The whole thing just drones on without making much of an impression (to be fair, it doesn't make a negative impression either. It's just kind of, well, there. It's taking the place of some other noise you might be listening to).

The music is all group-written, and perhaps that's part of the problem. It kind of sounds as if the guys all started jamming until they found a groove everyone was comfortable with, then started the tape machine. Sometimes, in order to make interesting music, there has to be an element of tension, of some forces working against other forces in order to bring music up from a pleasant surface. Admittedly, some bands that compose as a group are able to do this, maybe Schnell Fenster weren't keen on doing that. I dunno. Bennet managed to group-write some fun and compelling music, so it's not a rule or anything, I'm just trying to figure out what a group with such a pedigree turned out music like this.

Singer-lyricist Philip Judd also supplied the cover painting, most of the photographs and did the art direction, all of which are pretty good (though to my eye, the paintings are a bit crowded and lack a focal center).

And the band name is certainly intriguing. Wonder where they came up with that one? I hope the answer is something cool and interesting, not just the names of their agents or a street intersection or something....