The Insect Trust — The Insect Trust
(Ascension ANCD031, 1968/2000, CD)
by Mac Beaulieu, 2001-03-01:
As a longtime fan of Fairport Convention and British folk rock, I had dismissed American folk as being either too cloying or too familiar. Not so with The Insect Trust, who do for American folk and blues what Fairport did to the British equivalent. For reference sake, I'd compare this with Unhalfbricking, and I'd have to say that this is probably at least as good, given its year and timeless nature. The Insect Trust takes original and traditional tunes and adapts them to their own hippie vision with plenty of saxes, recorders, clarinet, piccolo, banjo, strings, and jangly slide guitars, resulting in folk music that is vital and inviting. Vocalist Nancy Jefferies has an outstanding voice, landing somewhere between Sandy Denny and Jacqui McShee (Pentangle). I couldn't help but fall in love with this even during the first track, a lazy, sultry, country blues number, split in the middle by a nicely noisy jam. "Miss Fun City" sounds like it's right out of CCR's bayou with its strongly reverbed rhythm guitar, banjo, and creeping movement. As one might expect from the date, there is a war protest song, but this one from WWI. "Special Rider Blues," at 7:43, starts out simply enough, eventually growing into a simple extended jam that sends me into a long-lost bluesy rapture; indeed, it has been many years since the blues have sent me anywhere but running for cover. "Been Here and Gone So Soon" smacks of a folk classic in composition, melody, and arrangement. Though a couple of songs get fairly simple, it never gets too dull or banal. In fact, this whole effort reeks of musicians who were confident in their direction (even if in the end they didn't get there) and comes highly recommended to prog fans with folk/blues interests.
by Peter Thelen, 2001-03-01:
This late-60s quintet from NYC epitomized the broad sense of musical experimentation of the era, pulling incongruent forms together, and through a combination of optimism and naiveté, managing to make them work. An unlikely assemblage of musicians, the Trust featured guitarist Bill Barth (electric, acoustic, bottleneck slide, etc.), Bob Palmer (alto sax, clarinet, recorders – who years later would become rock critic Robert Palmer), Trevor Koehler (baritone sax, piccolo, sewer drum, thumb piano, upright bass), Luke Faust (banjo, banjo-guitar, vocals) and singer Nancy Jeffries, a powerful vocalist with a strong folk-rock sensibility. Rounding out this lineup were top-notch session players on bass, drums, rhythm guitar, and some uncredited strings. Their sound is all over the map, but generally combines elements of 60s psychedelic rock, jugband, and blues, with a strong injection of jazz and folk. Tracks like "Mountain Song" and "World War I Song" tend to showcase the jugband element, while pieces like "The Skin Game" with its maelstrom of slide guitars and wailing saxes typifies their psychedelic rock perspective. A cover of "Special Rider Blues" and a Barth/Jeffries composition "Going Home" are solid blues, the former an absolute smokin' performance by all, while the latter is primarily an acoustic trio of Barth, Jeffries, and Palmer. "Been Here and Gone So Soon" presents their folkier side, perhaps with a touch of Appalachia. A cover of Gabor Szabo's "Walking on Nails" is another highlight and a good showcase for Jeffries' voice, but perhaps the album's strongest piece is "Miss Fun City", with its introspective banjo intro, droning electric rhythm guitar with saxes soloing over the top – and another splendid showcase for Jeffries' voice; it combines all the best elements of their sound in equal proportion. It's great to finally have this obscure classic available on CD. Recommended!
Related artist(s): The Insect Trust
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more