Exposé Online banner

The Insect Trust — The Insect Trust
(Ascension ANCD031, 1968/2000, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 2001-03-01:

The Insect Trust Cover art

This late-60s quintet from NYC epitomized the broad sense of musical experimentation of the era, pulling incongruent forms together, and through a combination of optimism and naiveté, managing to make them work. An unlikely assemblage of musicians, the Trust featured guitarist Bill Barth (electric, acoustic, bottleneck slide, etc.), Bob Palmer (alto sax, clarinet, recorders – who years later would become rock critic Robert Palmer), Trevor Koehler (baritone sax, piccolo, sewer drum, thumb piano, upright bass), Luke Faust (banjo, banjo-guitar, vocals) and singer Nancy Jeffries, a powerful vocalist with a strong folk-rock sensibility. Rounding out this lineup were top-notch session players on bass, drums, rhythm guitar, and some uncredited strings. Their sound is all over the map, but generally combines elements of 60s psychedelic rock, jugband, and blues, with a strong injection of jazz and folk. Tracks like "Mountain Song" and "World War I Song" tend to showcase the jugband element, while pieces like "The Skin Game" with its maelstrom of slide guitars and wailing saxes typifies their psychedelic rock perspective. A cover of "Special Rider Blues" and a Barth/Jeffries composition "Going Home" are solid blues, the former an absolute smokin' performance by all, while the latter is primarily an acoustic trio of Barth, Jeffries, and Palmer. "Been Here and Gone So Soon" presents their folkier side, perhaps with a touch of Appalachia. A cover of Gabor Szabo's "Walking on Nails" is another highlight and a good showcase for Jeffries' voice, but perhaps the album's strongest piece is "Miss Fun City", with its introspective banjo intro, droning electric rhythm guitar with saxes soloing over the top – and another splendid showcase for Jeffries' voice; it combines all the best elements of their sound in equal proportion. It's great to finally have this obscure classic available on CD. Recommended!


by Mac Beaulieu, 2001-03-01:

As a longtime fan of Fairport Convention and British folk rock, I had dismissed American folk as being either too cloying or too familiar. Not so with The Insect Trust, who do for American folk and blues what Fairport did to the British equivalent. For reference sake, I'd compare this with Unhalfbricking, and I'd have to say that this is probably at least as good, given its year and timeless nature. The Insect Trust takes original and traditional tunes and adapts them to their own hippie vision with plenty of saxes, recorders, clarinet, piccolo, banjo, strings, and jangly slide guitars, resulting in folk music that is vital and inviting. Vocalist Nancy Jefferies has an outstanding voice, landing somewhere between Sandy Denny and Jacqui McShee (Pentangle). I couldn't help but fall in love with this even during the first track, a lazy, sultry, country blues number, split in the middle by a nicely noisy jam. "Miss Fun City" sounds like it's right out of CCR's bayou with its strongly reverbed rhythm guitar, banjo, and creeping movement. As one might expect from the date, there is a war protest song, but this one from WWI. "Special Rider Blues," at 7:43, starts out simply enough, eventually growing into a simple extended jam that sends me into a long-lost bluesy rapture; indeed, it has been many years since the blues have sent me anywhere but running for cover. "Been Here and Gone So Soon" smacks of a folk classic in composition, melody, and arrangement. Though a couple of songs get fairly simple, it never gets too dull or banal. In fact, this whole effort reeks of musicians who were confident in their direction (even if in the end they didn't get there) and comes highly recommended to prog fans with folk/blues interests.


Filed under: Reissues , Issue 21 , 2000 releases, 1968 releases

Related artist(s): The Insect Trust

More info

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Daevid Allen and University of Errors - e²x10=Tenure – This sophomore CD from University of Errors starts with “Iced Tea Overture” and gets your attention with a chunky beat, free-form guitar, and spaced out effects. Then Allen gets going on...  (2001) » Read more

Matraz - Gritaré – I’m a big fan of many female vocalists, with Tori Amos, Björk, Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, and others high on my all-time favorite artist list. It’s always been a disappointment to me...  (2004) » Read more

Valinor's Tree - ...And Then There Is Silence – Sweden's Valinor's Tree has come a long way since their last album, Kingdom of Sadness which I reviewed in #19. The quartet still walks a high wire between balls-out modern hard rock and the...  (2001) » Read more

John Wetton & Richard Palmer-James - Monkey Business 1972-1997 – When was the first time you heard “Exiles” or “The Great Deceiver” and were taken aback about the lyrics? It’s a pretty strange role to find yourself by trying to fill...  (2000) » Read more

Soh Band - No Problem at All – Soh Band is a Japanese quintet who play the familiar variety of eclectic fusion native to their country. With a sound at times not unlike fellow countrymen Il Berlione, they mix a bit of...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues