Pneumatic Tubes – A Letter From Treetops (Ghost Box)


Pneumatic Tubes is subdued and sublime. Its music writ small, gentle grooves imbued with just the right level of controlled emotion. It’s a place where new age cosmic stargazing meets motorik hypnotism. It’s folk music for the soul. It feels full of wonder. There is a joy in the playing, in the very act of playing and it translates into the music, and the listening. Genre wise I don’t know what I’m listening to and it doesn’t seem to matter. There are definite elements of folk, but they feel butted up with elements like free jazz, and these disparate elements working together spread across the album – and the confounding is beautiful. As I listened my notes were ‘baroque, New Age, indie folk, ambient psychedelia, and English pastoral’ – which is kind’ve laughable because it’s the debut album of Jesse Chandler who’s from Upstate New York near Woodstock. He’s previously played with Midlake and Mercury Rev – but not like this.

It follows the death of his father and is the result of playing for playings sake. It’s so fascinating how this gentle instrumental music fits so perfectly within the Ghost Box aesthetic, because the music feels aged yet timeless, imbued with an earnest melancholia. My favourite element of this music is the woodwind, which despite being regularly submerged amongst other instrumentation adds an unmistakable texture.

Chandler has dedicated this album to his father and the ‘mystical mountains of the mind, in which we all reside,’ and there’s no doubt there is something elusive and mysterious about this music.

Whilst he plays keyboards and woodwind, he’s joined by Paul Alexander of Midlake on bass, Bill Campbell (Breastfist) on drums, occasional vocals from Marissa Nadler (I honestly cant remember hearing them) and electric guitar from Robert Gomez (John Grant). It doesn’t feel like music from a band. This is highly personal, highly emotional music. It feels that simply by listening you are capturing a small piece of his soul.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.