Melodramatic noises and rhythms greet us, without hesitation: an ominous chorus of wordless singing over bass-drum-heavy three-beated measures, the minor, steadily descending melody like some mini-opera exorcising specters and despair. A fourth beat sneaks in on the fourth and eighth measures and then we’re at a clearing, and front man Ari Picker (great name for a guitarist) starts singing. He’s got a pressing, Thom Yorke-ish tenor, the voice of a man who thinks too much, and then thinks he can think his way out of thinking that way.
Makes for a messy life but potentially powerful songs. “Walk Around the Lake” tricks out its epic ambiance with a poignant hesitancy, never staying too long in one time signature, and never giving us those operatic bashings for too long before retreating to the sound of one acoustic guitar. This is after all an introspective song—“Some times all it takes/Is a walk around the lake/To ease your mind”—and so the back and forth between the hubbub and the repose during the first two-thirds of the song seems to evoke the way a tender psyche can feel battered by the world, along with its efforts to find solace. The last third might be seen as an effort to more fully integrate the inner and outer worlds, which makes the short section near the middle (1:15) the linchpin upon which the song turns. This is when the ensemble swings into 2/4 for a focused, Pink Floydian seven seconds or so, staving off the foreboding 3/4 soundscape for the first time. We will hear that just once more, after which we finish out in balanced 4/4 time, Picker singing now about how his heart has grown and he’s moving on. And this a song not quite three minutes long.
Lost in the Trees, from Chapel Hill, began life as a solo project for the Berklee-educated Picker; now a seven-piece ensemble, the band lists some 20 extra people as part of its “extended family.” “Walk Around the Lake” is from the album All Alone in an Empty House, which was initially released on Trekky Records in 2008, but has been reworked and enhanced by producer Scott Solter for a new version, which is due out next month on Anti- Records.