Charles Trees is allegedly something of a legend in the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where locals are said to often proclaim "I spent half my life waiting for Charles". And yet up until now he has remained something of a secret, despite releases for Ghostly International, Moodgadget and Fulgeance’s Musique Large.
This new EP, Rootwork, has been in the making since mid-2012 and it just might help to explain what the fuss is all about. Opening with the title track there is a Latin-jazz, Sun Ra vibe to proceedings as Trees pretty much throws an onslaught of beats and percussion against Dan Bennet's brilliant sax playing. It is organic, fresh and absolutely full of life, bumping along to its increasingly electronic and acidic climax - this is the sound of totally disperate genres playing together and it seems effortless.
Exodus takes the baton from Rootwork and creates a calypso punk-funk stomp, house beats gradually dissolving as the track breaks into sunny funkadelic joy. On Get Advanced rapper and poet Intricate Dialogue casually flows over a loose rhythm, James Brown samples and a little 303 to create something intoxicating. Finally What's Left is cosmic funk, keys floating in space whilst some chunky bass lines create a sense of movement.
The EP also comes with two remixes, though neither feels quite as innovative as the originals. DJ F gives Rootwork a isolated and galactic feel with sinister keyboards substituted for the sax. Shigeto then extends What's Left to a nine-minute epic, a lengthy freestyle-sounding intro eventually giving way to a rapid, elastic and jazzy take on the original.
Rootwork is out on Monday through Lovemonk, available to order from Amazon.co.uk on MP3 [affiliate link]. Preview Rootwork on Soundcloud below: