Highest folk-trance ascension from Thuja! A truly remarkable and fulfilled vision...their patient, unforced improvisations cohering into dark blossoms of rhythmic psychedelia...everything you wanted from Third Ear Band, everything you wanted from EVERYONE, but never quite got. Folk is perhaps the wrong word, because for all its pastoral imagery and strange, mystic resonances, Hills
feels unmistakably urban - concise, hard-edged, “insular warehouse music from a still affordable city [San Francisco, circa 2002], before the internet dominated everything." You can hear some affinities with the uneasy, oneiric post-industrial ambiences of Werkbund, HNAS and O Yuki Conjugate, but the true spiritual precursors of Thuja’s roving, cavernous, group-mind psychoacoustics are perhaps people like AMM or Musica Elettronica Viva. Working with instruments and non-instruments, tiny sensual/incidental details picked up by contact mics, perhaps the most striking feature of this amazing record is the raw, wheeling, almost ceremonial percussion - knocks and scrapes and shimmers that suggest, at times, some kind of free, instinctive, atavistic techno. Elsewhere, there are forays into brittle country-blooz and bleakly beautiful Western landscapes - think Pelt, Popol Vuh’s Nosferatu
, the Earth of Hex
and Bees Made Honey
, Neil Young’s eeriest Dead Man
cues - and undulating drones and languid piano phrasings; a hushed, burned-out jazz. Until now this album, one of the true knockout masterpieces of its era, and of the whole Jewelled Antler / early noughts free/avant-folk axis, existed only as a short-run CDr on Last Visible Dog. This fully remastered, vinyl-only edition inaugurates a new label from Jon Dale and our Kiran, alongside Entlang’s equally belting The Four Sisters
. Highest possible recommendation!