The Trees Community

The Christ Tree

This four-CD set recovers a number of rare, strange and beautiful recordings by the Trees, a community of Christians who lived and played music together in New York City in the mid-1970s. As questionable as that sounds, the songs collected here are among the most groundbreaking and original of the past 30 years. A sense of unhampered anarchy pervades the music, which incorporates Middle Eastern drones, ecclesiastical chant, percussion breakdowns, hymns, a cappella choir numbers, regular old shouting, and atonal, chaotic jams. “Jesus He Knows” is as gentle and soothing as “Elijah” is freaky and jarring. Taken together, the songs form a remarkable portrait of musical unity. It’s not every day you come across a record that redefines sacred and secular music at one go, but this is it.