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Thuja 

Pine Cone Temples

Wednesday, Dec 7 2005
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Pine Cone Temples is a massive chunk of environmental music -- moody field recordings by four nature-loving experimental musicians from California retreating to the woods or a cavernous loft space and freely playing amplified sticks, stones, trees, archaic stringed instruments, and the occasional piano. Wander into Golden Gate Park some night this week, close your eyes, and for five minutes listen intently to the sounds floating about your head. You'll hear a random "symphony" of industrial culture and natural atmospherics roughly approximating the droning sounds of Thuja (a name borrowed from a type of cypress tree). But that's only a small part of the picture. Thuja has been working on this aesthetic for about seven years now, and the group has developed that rare ability, in the words of music scholar Dr. Fredric Lieberman, to "suggest by the simplest possible means the inherent nature of the aesthetic object," meaning these musicians, with meditative, Zen-like intention, discover the very essence of every sound they create no matter how faint. And when all these individual sounds are considered as one -- with several of these pieces breaking the 20-minute mark -- a powerful collective presence can be felt that is so much more intense than a smattering of random noises.

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Justin F. Farrar

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