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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 234 - 09/28/15

The Hills Are Alive
A Circular Triangle Making A Square
FakeFolk Records

I tend to get some unwanted moving pictures in my head when I hear the band name The Hills Are Alive (THAA). It has to do with Julie Andrews running around some grassy hills in Austria singing her heart out in a nun's garments. It's not pleasant, so let's stick to the abbreviation, shall we? If you fear THAA sounds like the soundtrack of The Sound Of Music you're in for a pleasant surprise. THAA's musical inspirations seems to lie a few years closer to our time, around 1970, what at the time was called hard rock. Which means guitar and organ driven rock with a bit of blues at the bottom. Some use of synthesizers suggest the inspiration might stretch as far as till the mid 1970s.

At first I found the album a bit monotonous and too straight forward. Compared to THAA's debut album Excursions Into Unknown Territory almost 13 years ago, I miss some of musical variations and guest appearances with a lot more fiddle/violin, flute and female vocal harmonies. Instead Amund Heir's keyboards, mainly vintage sounding Hammond organ, are given a more prominent role. Closer examination reveals that A Circular Triangle Making A Square includes a time signature shift there, a short turn towards progressive rock there, some instrumentation off the trodden path here and there and the songs with more obvious differing arrangements. Like the kind of heavy balladry of "No Safe Place", the interlude of "Adam vs. The World" and the folk-rock tendencies with fiddle and all at the beginning and avant-rock at the end of "H For 2", all of them among my favourites of the album. The latter with trombone, sax and backward sounding guitar before it all moves into complete mayhem.

First and foremost we're dealing with sturdy basic rock here. I guess I'll prefer the charms and variation of the debut in the long run. On the other hand the band sounds tighter now than they used to in the 00's. Rock solid rock!

The band might be contacted by e-mail.

[THAA threw a release concert for this CD at MIR, Oslo, on 19 September. This was also their farewell gig, as the THAA already had dissolved - editor's note]

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You may also want to check out our Hills Are Alive article/review: Excursions Into Unknown Territory.

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