Once a Tree – Once a Tree E.P.
We live in a world of dualities. There are darks and lights, goods and bads, happys and sads, but is it so easy to sort the world into this black and white model? The most interesting place lies in that grey area and a song born out of that place is the one that draws on the contrasting elements. Once a Tree, the husband and wife duo of Hayden & Jayli Wolf, have captured light in their airy little touches, all the while whispering a haunting undertone. Their self-released E.P., which dropped on June 8th, is a chilled out collection of five down tempo tunes. Uplifting, ethereal, poppy, and dreamy, this is not the type of album where you have to chase after a dance; the dance just floats through you like a soft breeze.
Their self-titled debut opens with its stand out song, “Coastal Rain.” Soft wind seems to weave through some beautiful forest or beach, lifting up echoing vocals and expanding synth until the beat drops in. Jayli Wolf’s voice is well suited to ambient electronica, with a certain prettiness and crisp delivery that’s welcoming. It’s like she’s some delicate sprite taking your hand and leading you into their world of sound. The balance between the airy vocals and symbol heavy, beat brake drums is just right. It gently swells and peacefully dissipates, thoughtfully completing the dream like image of rain.
Once a Tree really excel in cultivating this otherworldly setting, subtly creating a unifying theme of nature within all their songs. A track never just bursts forth with brute force, it always paves a way, building up and then rewarding with a beat around the bend. “Lucky,” brilliantly sets that feel good vibe and deep, enwrapping atmosphere. Dub synth is sure to be felt in the subwoofers on this one. A steady drum loop plays under gentle vocals and is never weighed down by the synth, the star of this track. The whole song kind of melts in your mouth.
Though they never really float across the line into dark there is that haunting element to it. While, “Death of a Star,” is far from being spooky, it stands out as the heaviest, darkest track. From the signature opening breezy vocals and a beat like a heart it progresses into an inviting chill step groove. Soon after it breaks into something far more industrial. This is the duo with their power switch and reverb turned high and the result is chilling in the most delightful way.
The Once a Tree E.P. is a rich, chill wave paradise. It’s one in which you can dance or just peacefully fall into a cloud. The album is available for download through Bandcamp and is hopefully just the beginning. This is intelligent electronic music that goes with you when you leave the dance floor. Once a Tree are on the WORDKRAPHT watch list.
WORDKRAPHT Rating: 4 Stars
Album Name: Once a Tree
Date Released: June, 2013
Genre: Chillwave, Experimental, Dreampop
Location: Toronto, Canada
Band Members: Hayden & Jayli Wolf