Mason’s Pick: Lost in the Trees – A Church that fits our needs

Mason McGough

By Mason McGough, Osprey Radio Music Director

Often times, tragedy can be the greatest motivator. This is the unfortunate story of Ari Picker, songwriter of Lost in The Trees. While writing the band’s debut album All Alone in an Empty House, Picker suffered the inevitable pain of losing a loved one, namely his mother and to suicide no less. Staggered by her death, Picker put his emotional devastation to song in an attempt to turn tragedy into tribute, and hopefully triumph. A Church That Fits Our Needs is the culmination of his endeavor. At times monolithic and others laconic and demure, the album embodies the futility of trying to reach out to a lost loved one, and the conscious desire to keep on trying.

Picker’s classical training shows its merit throughout the album; chords change expression to match the words flowing around them, at times ascending heaven-bound and others nose-diving into darkness. Tracks like “Tall Ceilings” capture the elegiac dreamscapes of Steve Reich and the majestic fanfares of film soundtracks while pairing them with the spiritual desolation of tracks like Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film).” However, the album excels not because of the merit of Picker’s musical skills alone, but by how eloquently he is able to merge sound with sentiment. Violins chatter frantically, imparting a frightening bit of tension as “a golden angel” floats past the mirror on “Villains (I’ll Stick Around).”  “Like a ribbon of silver, I poured her body in the river” he croons on “Icy River” in solemn remembrance of his mother’s death, but the line’s string accompaniment feels hardly like an embellishment.

Overall, A Church That Fits Our Needs recalls the wintry sound of Bon Iver or Owen Pallett, but beneath its layers of sorrow lays a much more vibrant palette than the greys and whites it paints with (both literally and metaphorically). The color gold is used frequently throughout the album in description of mostly illusory things: armor, angels’ wings, a fortress, his mother’s eyes. This is a story of pain and loss, but it’s clear Picker set out with victory in mind. A Church That Fits Our Needs is such a victory, condensing the turgid essence of tragedy into an elusive, formless thing of beauty.