At Sunday night’s Bowery show with Love Is All, Cold Cave was all reticence, dim lighting, winter-jackets–“Strictly outerwear,” said a friend. It was cold outside, and inside the odd cluster of friends and nervous LIA early arrivals honored Cold Cave with a kind of audience-band staring contest, a competition that zeroed into affectless, blank territory pretty quick. “The Trees Grew Emotions And Died”–which I first heard on a mixtape commemorating the release of 23, a Heartworm Press collection that includes, among other things, pieces from two out of three Cold Cave members–was not part of the band’s 18-minute set.
As it happens, the song is a bit of ironic cheer–Figurine’s “IMpossible” gone power-electronics, say. It’s a smiling cousin to the rest of the Cold Cave stuff, which at times sounds like Pleasure Ground-era Prurient–lots of little sneaky melodies buried in the midst of an otherwise desolate, sucking void. “Trees” stands that equation on its head. It’s a lovely little song, and in a different, less cavernous, Sunday-night space, they probably would’ve played it. Writes Max G. Morton in the 23 tape liner notes: “Forever I will wonder what would have happened if I would have listened to more “Ceremony” and less “Traitor” in my youth.” This song is more or less the answer.