April 9, 2015
by Tjeerd van Erve
That’s what my son uttered when he heard Homemade Empire the first time. The seven year old even frowned a bit, emphasising the seriousness of the word, as he repeated it; “dra-ma-tic”. It was a word that fitted the feel of First Trees (Bart de Kroon’s third solo endeavour) perfectly . First Trees is full of dark, gloomy doom-folk, reminiscent of the old Oldham and Mount Eerie releases, the ones that used to grab you with their warm, patient lofi folk.
“What’s wrong with the light in my heart, when random events hit like a power surge and result in tiny explosions?”, De Kroon sings in Shield Off, one of First Trees’ many highlights. The record is full of these kinds of lyrical imaginings. And all sung in a laid back tone, which seems to create a drifting, but greater mystical “whole”. Dreamy but threatening, that’s maybe the best way to describe the work on First Trees. And dreamy in the sense that the whole imagery is mystical; very much focussed on nature’s vast greatness, something that inspired De Kroon in writing this album. But De Kroon’s dreams are not always the sweetest; sometimes unexpected eruptions and tidal waves of noise emerge out of this otherwise submerged doom folk. You just have to go with it and be dragged under. For these noisier extracts, Bart de Kroon called in some help from WOLVON drummer Bram Nigten, but for the most part, First Trees is Bart’s solo work, playing which makes this record even more impressive. Or as Bart de Kroon puts it in Homeland Security, “Homemade Empire’s pretty cool”. I can do nothing but confirm this, as does my son with his heartfelt “Dra-ma-tic!”. Yes boy, it is…..