Pine Cone Temples

Strange Attractors

For a musical collective, San Francisco’s Jewelled Antler really runs the gamut between pretentious-but-listenable and absurdly-experimental-but-fascinating. Thuja, one of the longest-lasting outifts from this group, falls into the latter. Featuring Steven R. Smith, Glenn Donaldson, Loren Chase and Rob Reger, Pine Cone Temples‘ two discs are awash in field recordings and loose, improvised instrumentation. While there is nothing on either disc which could be pinned down as a traditional song, none of potential weirdness of 20-minute ambient sonic wanderings even comes into question. Thuja’s expert manipulation of the story of their sound pulls the listener into the world they’re constructing. As the final song on the second disc illustrates — none of the tracks have titles — with its clacking of wood on wood, the gentle rustle of wind through dense foliage, footfalls on various earthen floors and folk instruments whispering occasionally in the distance; this is what rural England in the Middle Ages would’ve sounded like. This album creates the same kind of mystic realism that Gabriel Garcia Marquez did with his novel, 100 Years of Solitude. While the works appeal to different senses, they both give the listener/reader more than enough groundwork to fully enjoy their respective fictional worlds. One of the best albums of the year.

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