Cone Temples (2CD) (2005, Strange
If you're going to get into a project that's been
around for awhile, I highly doubt that an expansive two-disc album
would be a very good starting point. Would 'Leaves Turn Inside You'
be a good introduction to Unwound? I would think not.
That being said, if you are a fan of Thuja's, Pine
Cone Temples will definitely not disappoint you, and at the same
time you just may hear something new and unexpected. This album,
which is comprised of songs that were recorded between 1999 and
2004, varies a good deal from prior Thuja albums. Which would make
sense, seeing as how these songs probably didn't make it onto different
albums for a reason.
you're unfamiliar with Thuja, it's been my listening experience
that they usually run the gamut between dark sounding folk ('Ghost
Plants') to what I would imagine an experimental take on Eastern-European
traditional folk music would sound like ('All Strange Beasts of
the Past'), all of which are instrumental. The songs presented on
their debut album for the Portland, Oregon based Strange Attractors,
do not follow either of those paths. Instead, we are treated to
more open-endedness than I've heard on prior albums. Drone, ambient
soundscapes, piano, field recordings, all sorts of sounds are present
here, but in a less structured way than i'm used to hearing.
Classically, Thuja's songs have had a running time
between three and seven minutes, but averaged more around the five
minute mark, with usually one long track per album. This time around
four of the six songs on the first disc are over nine minutes long,
with one clocking in at eighteen. The second disc is just two tracks.
The first being thirteen minutes long, while the second one is someone
with Attention Deficit Disorder's nightmare at twenty-six minutes
long. However; despite the epic, post-rock, song lengths, this is
not an album built around song dynamics. There's no gentle build
up to a cliched noisy apex. The songs on Pine Cone Temples start
off slow, and meander all the way to the end. I wouldn't have Thuja
any other way.
members of Thuja; Loren Chasse, Steven R. Smith, Rob Reger, and
Glenn Donaldson, are involved in a myriad of other experimental
and folky projects and have been doing their thing before "New
Weird America" came to mean anything "folky" and
"different". Some of the other projects Thuja members
have been/are involved with: Id Battery, The Blithe Sons, Of, The
Birdtree, Mirza, Hala Strana, The Skygreen Leopards, The Ivytree,
The Franciscan Hobbies, in addition to their solo excursions, and
anything else i'm forgetting. More than a few of which feature multiple
Thuja members, I suggest looking into them, as well as the Jewelled