Tree No Leaves is firmly rooted in the blossoming Bowling Green, Ohio music scene.
For more than a decade, the heavy psychedelic soul sextet has planted a series of studio and live album online releases for fans. Throughout their extensive digital catalog, Tree No Leaves fuses eloquent rock, funk, world and jazz sounds while maintaining a melodic and lyrical based center.
Last September, the band branched out with their first vinyl release of their latest studio album, “Prophet Holographic,” a retro seven-track album filled with vibrant, eclectic sonic foliage spanning multiple genres and approaches.
“This record was supposed to be a throwback to more of a live sound and have a bare minimum of post-production. The reverb on the record itself is the reverb from the recording studio. It was recorded at The Mohawk Studio, which is a beautiful 185-year-old church in Sandusky,” said Dustin Galish, the band’s vocalist, pianist, organist, synthesist and guitarist who initially started Tree No Leaves as a duo with wife Sarah Galish.
“All the real sounds you’re hearing were done there, so it’s not post-production echo or reverb. For us, that was kind of cool, especially because we were going to vinyl, and we had never done that before. We didn’t want to get too tricky with what we were doing for the mixing and mastering, so there’s a lot of traditional old school layering to get effects.”
Along with longtime bandmate, guitarist and organist Calvin Cordy, Galish wrote and arranged eight to 10 tracks for “Prophet Holographic” centered around rhythm and double percussion.
At the time, they partnered with two drummers and percussionists, JP Stebal IV and Billy Gruber, to capture a more cohesive, analog and rhythmic sound for their third studio album.
Tree No Leaves also reimagined one of their past songs, “Belief (Reprise),” a stellar eight-minute dreamy, early ‘70s track filled with thoughtful, soaring vocals, bright, calm guitars, quiet percussion and delicate cymbal crashes.
It’s the ideal sonic companion to Fleetwood Mac’s 1971 album, “Future Games,” featuring early members Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan at the band’s helm. The song beautifully and peacefully closes out side one of “Prophet Holographic.”
For “Prophet Holographic,” the band narrowed the remaining tracks down to six and included additional sonic elements to grow their sound, especially for a vinyl-listening experience.
“The bass player at the time had written some arrangements, the percussionists had put some things together, I had written some arrangements as well as our guitar player,” said Galish, who’s inspired by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp.
“It was definitely more of a collaborative record, and it introduced the saxophone, and we’ve never done that before. We have a full-time saxophone player, Garrett Tanner, in the band, so that was sort of a different approach.”
Another brilliant track, the politically-inspired “Swamp Troll,” opens with the repetitive tribal chant of “It’s a Swamp Troll” and features a seamless complex interplay between rhythmic percussion and jazzy saxophone solos.
It’s Tree No Leaves’ satirical homage to President Donald Trump – “When he drinks your milkshake/He cuts off your hands/When you’re cold at night, you’re the last of your band.”
“How would you clean up a swamp? You send in a troll,” Galish laughed. “It’s a fun song for us, and I have some personal interest in Afro rhythms, and our percussionists were aware of that, so for us to bring that into our music felt really fun to do that. It’s really fun to play live, especially with the saxophone interplay.”
Two other standout tracks include the catchy, folksy “Country Funk” and introspective, diverse and timeless “Tribes Again.” “Country Funk” features Galish’s downhome, soulful vocals and Cordy’s twangy, melodic guitars to represent the band’s rural Ohio roots – “This country funk I’m in/It’s getting hard to swallow/All this gold I’m borrowing/Looking down and pissing in the wind.”
For “Tribes Again,” Tree No Leaves mixes Afro beats and Latin grooves in a masterful track infused with “wah-wah” guitars and shiny synths. It’s also influenced by a 19th century piece from modern French composer and pianist Erik Satie.
Those new to Tree No Leaves will quickly develop an intense appreciation for three “Prophet Holographic” tracks – “Swamp Troll,” “Country Funk” and “Tribes Again’ – on vinyl.
“Those are the three that really stood out for us, those are the ones we like to play live and would be the ones to give you a little taste of what else we do,” said Galish, a Bowling Green State University graduate who originally hails from Medina County.
This fall, WBGU-TV will feature a behind-the-scenes documentary about Tree No Leaves’ making of “Prophet Holographic” at The Mohawk Studio and their evolution since forming in 2008.
“The story about the record is almost as important as where it was recorded as the songs in some ways,” Galish said. “Even the songs we perform now are different than the versions that are on the record. When you see us live, you’re not going to get the record performed.”
As for upcoming live performances, The current lineup of Tree No Leaves — Dustin Galish, Sarah Galish, Calvin Cordy, JP Stebal IV, Devonte Stovall and Garret Tanner — hosts a monthly residency at Howard’s Club H, 210 N. Main Street in Bowling Green.