Album ReviewsReviews

Review: The Triple Tree - Ghosts (2008)

artist: The Triple Tree
release: Ghosts
format: CD
year of release: 2008
label: Cold Spring
dur­a­tion: 58:01

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Ghosts is one of those albums I had been wait­ing for for quite some time. Tony Wake­ford star­ted this pro­ject with the MP3-only album The Turn­ing Wheel on Woven Wheat Whis­pers in 2006, but has since been joined by Andrew King to take on this pro­ject together. Along with an impress­ive array of guest artists (Kris Force, Reeve Malka, and John Murphy, to name a few), these two men have tackeled the superb and pro­lific ghost stor­ies of M.R. James on this inter­est­ing and ori­ginal album.

Those who think that Wake­ford has been stuck in play­ing straight-for­ward neo­folk with the clas­sic Sol Invictus should look again, for the good man has shown a fine taste for musical exper­i­ments in the past years. 2007 saw the release of his col­lab­or­a­tion with Nick Grey and Kris Force, the beau­ti­ful and subtle Grey Force Wake­ford album, and this latest one by The Triple Tree is no excep­tion. Ghosts is made up of ori­ginal com­pos­i­tions that incor­por­ate ele­ments from the neo­folk back­ground, surely, but also ambi­ent, neo-clas­sical, Wake­ford’s own funky bass, and of course tra­di­tional song as cham­pioned by Andrew King. The res­ult as a whole is quite diverse, yet very coher­ent in its atmo­sphere.

That is, of course, the aim of a concept album like this. Just as James’ stor­ies dis­play dif­fer­ent fla­vours, their over­all tone is always one of dread and mys­tery: a restrained coun­ter­part to the splat­ter hor­ror of today. Ghosts are of course the real prot­ag­on­ists in these tales of for­bid­den eso­teric magic, tragedy, and hor­rid crime. So it is with the music on this album, which is at dif­fer­ent times epic, subtle, mys­tic, unnerv­ing, catchy, but always con­vin­cing.

This album is quite dif­fer­ent from its pre­de­cessor, which focused more on dreamy ambi­ent repe­ti­tion, and is closer to the afore­men­tioned Grey Force Wake­ford in style, though with a dis­tinctly more hor­rid atmo­sphere, and more folk influ­ences in the music itself. Another link is of course Eng­lish Heretic, who indeed are no strangers to the world of M.R. James. Their inter­pret­a­tion of “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You” off the 2006 album Wyrd Tales was no less bril­liant. Little sur­prise that The Triple Tree make grate­ful use of EH field record­ings. Finally, Andrew King’s col­lab­or­a­tion with Les Sen­ti­ers Con­flic­tuels comes to mind, which fea­tures a sim­ilar com­bin­a­tion of spoken word and hor­ror atmo­sphere.

There’s no use try­ing to describe this album any fur­ther. The key ele­ments are soph­ist­ic­ated dark exper­i­mental music with a reward­ing lyr­ical and nar­rat­ive base in the clas­sic ghost stor­ies by James. It’s cer­tainly not an access­ible whole if you are expect­ing a cer­tain estab­lished musical style, but I can’t do oth­er­wise than recom­mend this album to any­one who feels up to the task of digest­ing this work of exper­i­mental musical hor­ror.

Reviewed by O.S.


1. Ghosts - Pro­logue (4:01)
2. Three Crowns (5:36)
3. The Stalls (3:45)
4. The Mez­zo­tint (4:11)
5. Mrs. Moth­er­sole (4:02)
6. The Ash Tree (4:40)
7. The Malice of Inan­im­ate Objects (5:05)
8. There Was a Man Dwelt by a Church­yard (1:48)
9. Lost Hearts (5:25)
10. Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You (5:10)
11. Black Cru­sade (4:54)
12. Cast­ing the Runes (5:34)
13. The Ghosts of Eng­land (3:50)