So where does one begin? Or end? That’s the question that always crosses my mind when wandering in the land of wordless musical ambience. It is, therefore, also a valid question for Oberlin and “Hidden Thorns”. What path does this album take and does it lead us anywhere?
Certainly, most of what is presented here is synthetic in origin and, without the guidance of words or even constructional direction, that does leaves the songs floating in mid air as if forever oscillating between complete and incomplete. There is no obvious beginning, middle or end to the songs whether viewed individually or as a collective entity yet, curiously, neither is there the confusion that should result from sequencing of the songs without deliberate alignment to some sort of obvious musical objective. A purpose nonetheless exists even if it is, probably deliberately, not stated and, in some less than abstract way, the result is that this album seems more of the machine than the human that created it.
That does not, however, render “Hidden Thorns” cold or distanced from emotion and, unlike Eno style ambience, the music therein actively encourages contemplation. So, while Oberlin provides us with neither start, middle nor end, “Hidden Thorns” does provide us with a platform to rest deeper thoughts upon. That works for me.