Review Summary: Wonderous instrumental ode to utter dispair.
'The Christmas Tree Ship' was a bit of a bizzare move for dark indie champions iLiKETRAiNS. Only five tracks long and completely instrumental, it could have proved a real turn off... Hang on a second, let's back it up a little... I said "five tracks long", but that's kind of not the case, because 'The Christmas Tree Ship' is actually an evolving suite of music with no breaks on it at all. Every 'song' seemlessly bridges into the next one, making for a spectacularly cohesive work.
And I use 'work' in the grandest sense, because far from being a turn off, 'The Christmas Tree Ship' is a masterfull peice of art.
Like all iLiKETRAiNS music, 'The Christmas Tree Ship' has a historical tale driving it's tunes, this one being about a group of ships that sunk on lake Michigan during a great storm in the early part of the 20th century, which left no survivors. The captain of the Rouse Simmons, the titular ship which was transporting Christmas trees to Chicago at the time of the storm, managed to get a message-in-a-bottle off before the ship went down that read;
"Friday... Everybody goodbye. I guess we are all through. During the night the small boat washed overboard. Leaking bad. Invald and Steve lost too. God help us."
Sorry for the history lesson there, but I'm sure from that explanation you can grasp just how sorrowfull this album gets. The final tear-worthy track on the album is even entitled 'Friday, Everybody Goodbye'.
Filled with reverb and distortion, almost all of the tracks on the record build themselves up from quiet nothings into giant wailing malestroms before falling back again into dejected dispair. It's beautiful and stirring, with the delicate melodies really bringing the tragedy to full heart wrenching fruition.
Obviously, it's a mood piece, and thusly requires a certain time and place to be enjoyed properly. It's not like you can listen to it whilst pumping yourself up for a game of football. It's very much an unhappy night-time kind of record. But that's iLiKETRAiNS through and through.
In the end, 'The Christmas Tree Ship' is an exceptional record with true depth that properly explores despair at it's musical root. A fantastic record for the sullen bedroom dwellers around the world.