Boomkat Product Review:
Rose Hobart is the very promising new label by the Blackest Ever Black / Low Company lot. Its 2nd release is a reissue of low-key, cranky psych-folk by San Fran’s Thuija from 2002, cannily exploring a time and place when the internet was really taking root.
Harking back to the independent rock undercurrents of late ‘90s / early ‘00s, ‘Hills’ remains a vital document of artists going against the grain of their time. Part of the Jewelled Antler collective, whose label and their ilk were well represented on these pages during the ‘00s, Thuja built their sound around a natural conception of psyche-folk. Often recording in the abundant nature of North California and beyond, their style crossed paths with the improvisations of AMM and Musica Elettronica Viva as much as the enigmatic drift of Zoviet France or Finland’s Kemialliset Ystävät and the sprawling Fonal Records sound.
Working under crepuscular light levels and in uniquely plangent, psychoacoustic space that appears to traverse nature settings and their San Francisco warehouse, the sound of ‘Hills’ was a result of the band’s urge to get away from conservative ‘90s indie music and inhabit their own sound, using a mix of acoustic, plugged-in, and specially-adapted instruments together with field recordings to realise their dreams in sound. At the time San Fran was fertile ground for recording - space was cheap and the internet didn’t yet totally dominate the city. In a sense, this sound, like the internet, took root in these conditions, sporing ideas that would semi-naturally spread globally thru their respective rhizomes of underground cables and scenes.
Whether intended or not, with hindsight, Rose Hobart label have smartly and perhaps slightly perversely raked back over this strange era of 2002 to salvage something of a lost dream; offering a glimpse of instrumental innocence, of collective unity, that feels foreign to 2019 but also totally needed as a reminder of a time before extreme binaries, when the world as we know was coming into shape. And this is what it sounded like when perceived from the peripheries, from Thuja’s ‘Hills.’