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Growing "Color Wheel"

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There are no surprises here, but I don't suppose the listeners of Growing are necessarily at the gates demanding precisely what it is that the band's name teasingly implies: growth. This album could be The Sky's Run Into the Sea; it could be The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light. Up to this point, the realm of Elysian drones has been well-trodden by this duo, but it doesn't hurt to retread some sweet-smelling fields or even lie down in the grass for a while.

Despite the name, Growing's fourth album Color Wheel doesn't feature a nifty wheel with color acetates revolving around some psychedelic background in the vein of Sonic Boom's Spectrum LP, but I wish it did. Instead, it has a white cover with a spare colored-pencil rendering of an explosion of polychromatic small circles (green, blue, aquamarine, baby blue) bursting forth over what could be either a taupe mountain range or dirty clouds. The image is pure, crystalline, and reinforced by the first few bars of "Fancy Period." A tremulous column of sound reflects back and forth, like light refracting through prismic crystals. The song soon comes back down to earth, though. The firmament's presence is both announced and enunciated by fuzzy, staccato drones. They explode in a call and response between two sounds which are not really speaking the same language. One is slightly ethereal and effervescent, the other chthonic and clumsy. This is the central conceit of any Growing song.

"Blue Angels" announces itself about four minutes in with a resounding bass-level buzz which almost sounds like a squadron of Boeing F/A-18 Hornets passing overhead. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have the music video for Van Halen's "Dreams" in my mind right now, and consequently the mind-blowing Mr. Universe cover art of their 51/50 album. "Blue Angels" (and really this band) is made for people everywhere who enjoy listening to bagpipe music. The problem is that the band belabors the song for too long, deliberating over the same few oscillations and clinging to them too tenaciously. Growing are enamored of the 15-minute song because it is suitable as a live improvisation technique, not because it always sounds good on your stereo at home. While performing, the band can create hypnosis through drone, though recorded they can more often induce intolerance.

I prefer the frugality of "Friendly Confines" (7.5 minutes) or the economy of "Peace Offering" (6 minutes). Both songs efficiently tackle the Eno-esque drifts, the punchy punctuation, and the severe crescendos. "Friendly Confines" gives each realm its equal share of elegance and could possibly be the acme of Growing's existence. By album's end, beware of "Green Pastures." Its pastoral charm is loudly lacerated by swaths of huge, metallic noise. It ends placidly enough, but your guts are still shaking from the scarier moments.


Last Updated on Monday, 10 April 2006 22:14  


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