AUDIO: First Listen - Tree's DEMONS EP
Apollo Records welcomes the explosive young talent that is Oliver Tree Nickell to the label with this utterly extraordinary release. The Santa Cruz resident, not to be confused with the Chicago rapper of the same moniker, has been perfecting his craft for years, including time in various teenage bands plus success on the west coast DJ scene in his teens, but now - at an age when most artists are only starting their explorations - he emerges as a fully mature artist, beyond scene and style, able to stand among the fellow visionaries of modern music.
"Demons," with its rapped-sung-spoken vocals, is an amazing, creepy-crawling, yet sensuous track. Bringing to mind Maxinquaye-era Tricky, yet with a 21st century electronic clarity to the microscopic detail of its off-kilter percussion, it's reminiscent of Tree's production idol, Flying Lotus.
"Rabbit Hole" is even more intense, a cinematic track with its epic narrative unfolding through monumental bass tones, synth arpeggios evocative of Rustie, sweet orchestral melodies emerging through storms of sound, and again those soft vocals bringing humanity into the spiraling trip.
The audacious take on "Karma Police," meanwhile, has Tree taking center stage. His own distinctive singing and rap verses make Radiohead's original completely his own. The blurring of the lines between acoustic and electronic, intimate and monumental, and fear and defiance on this cover simply staggers the senses.
And each track on this release is so rich, so meticulously crafted beneath its striking immediacy, that you will discover more with every listen. It's a trip you will want to revisit.
2. Karma Police
3. Rabbit Hole