Ears Wide Open: The Soft Hills

The Soft Hills (Photo by Garrett Hobba)

The Soft Hills is the vehicle for the music explorations of songwriter and visual artist Garrett Hobba. The psych-pop artist writes dulcet songs for the thinking man — for those who drift off to explore notions of introspection and the untold. These themes make themselves clear in the newest track, “Opening To The Infinite” and its accompanying music video.

“‘Opening To The Infinite,’ expresses a sense of the mysterious, a fascination with the unknown,” Hobba says. “The themes involve alien abduction, encounters with the spirit world and inexplicable occurrences such as happen in dreams. The song touches on important existential questions and how light shines through the darkness.”

The Soft Hills originated in Seattle some 15 years ago and have released six albums — the last, “Go Under,” in 2016. The songwriter covered a lot of geography — literal and spiritual — since. In 2017, he visited Europe, where, in the Netherlands, he did a three-night ayahuasca medicine ceremony, refocused on music and returned to the U.S., settling in Portland. He ended up joining old friends Jon Peloso (guitar/keys) and Anthony Shadduck (upright and electric bass) in Los Angeles and, with drummer Garrit Tillman, began making the album “Viva Chi Vede” (Italian that translates to “alive who sees”).

It’s a refinement of the Soft Hills’ take on psych-pop and atmospheric folk — ambient, contemplative and cinematic music with hints of ’60s, ’70s and even ’90s rock that has drawn comparisons to the likes of Red House Painters and Fleet Foxes.

The latest single, the follow-up to last month’s “Tea Time,” is a calming song, but one that reminds us of the things bigger than ourselves. The tune’s guitar work and background vocals were recorded by Hobba’s friend, Dustin Silva.

In the video for “Opening To The Infinite,” directed by Ben Curtis-Horsfall and produced by Seven Horses Films, we see the careful product placement of an Audio Technica cartridge spinning endlessly on a record. It then cuts to an upside-down beach and sunset with a mysterious seductive woman.

“Viva Chi Vede” is out July 22 via Black Spring Records, Hobba’s homegrown indie label.

||| Watch: The video for “Opening To The Infinite”

||| Also: Check out “Tea Time,” “Medicine” and “Jolly Bird”