The cello of Emily Burridge reaches, like an outstretched hand, into Nemeton’s field recording of New Forest National Park. She is an empathetic presence. Her bowed notes arrive slowly as though asking for permission before proceeding, mimicking the branches of the surrounding beechwoods that suspend themselves in the air, moving between spindles of melodic motif and ripples of harmonics. The same is true of Karen Wimhurst’s choral arrangement, which bristles and expands like a breeze shuddering through the leaves, holding soft dissonances that feel both serene and quietly agitating. Music wanders into the field recording and then departs again, leaving birdsong to rush into the gaps where voices and strings used to be. All of this ensures that the human imprint upon this landscape is only temporary, with the tonal base constantly adjusted to prevent it from taking root in the arboreal growth. It’s one thing to collaborate with nature; it’s another to actively respect it.
Of course, this principle of respecting the environment is more crucial than it’s ever been, and within this quiet reverie for nature is an acknowledgement of its anthropocentric, ferociously destructive opposite. All Trees Are Clocks is also a quiet observation of the climate change that is rupturing forest ecosystems all around the world. In light of this, the album not only explores the New Forest but also documents it, immortalising the rustles and bird chirps that will soon be reduced to historical artefact. The soft tick of a clock has been embedded into the field recording, and as the instruments drop out – choir and cello retracting into nothing, just how the forests themselves dwindle amidst a climate that refuses to house them any longer – I can sense the players listening, cherishing the interplay between flora and fauna as they roll unknowingly toward oblivion, one tick at a time.