Scott Herren has been a busy man over the past couple years. Not only has he recorded under the name Savath And Savalas and Delarosa and Asora, but he recently released the deconstructed hip-hop album Vocal Studies and Uprock Narratives under the name of Prefuse 73. The projects have all been fairly varied in sounds, and just because you enjoy one doesn't mean that you'll take a liking to another. Although the title is a little bit hokey sounding, Folk Songs For Trains, Trees, and Honey actually makes some sense once you've heard the disc.
The "trains" in this release, though, wouldn't be the big ones that rumble through the outskirts of town late at night blaring their horns, though. On this release, the trains are more like the smooth, cross-country ones you'd find in Japan or Europe, zipping along at high speeds while lulling you off to sleep. In fact, besides a couple moments, this disc is so darn peaceful and nice that you could probably play it for just about anyone and not have them be offended by it. It's post rock verging on the edge of ambience (like much of Tortoise's TNT), and is probably best for late nights when you're getting ready to drift off to bed or early morning when you don't want something too loud pounding your brains.
The opening track entitled "Beginning" is probably the most offensive track on the entire disc and at just under a minute long, the random static bursts and cut-up bits (like an AM dial being turned across the spectrum) only really serves to introduce the hazy static sound that becomes an element in the second track "Transportation Theme." Shuffling along with an almost liquid keyboard groove and some quiet shakers, that track in turn fades nicely into the track "Binoculars," which adds a touch of glitchy sounds and a warm flute to a light (but funky) bassline.
The album continues at that sort of steady, even pace for nearly the entirety (which isn't very much considering the 9 tracks only run just over 30 minutes), mixing some mild live instrumentation with touches of electronics. At several points (like on the stellar "Paulo"), some very nice percussive moments break out and shake things loose a little more, but for the most part the album simply flows along at a steady gait, working a mid-tempo instrumental warmth with nice little interplay between organ, bass, and guitar. In the end, it flows really well, but that is also one of the weak spots of the release, simply because there isn't a great deal of dynamics to keep it from becoming pretty sonic wallpaper. Still, it's a nice release from Herren, and if this is one of his first stabs at the genre, then I defintely need to check out others.