If you want to distill Growing down to a one- or two-word description well, that’s pretty easy: noise or drone or experimental or any combination thereof. But Growing isn’t about distillation. It’s about expansion. Enlargement. Growth, even.
But expounding on this entity is a little more difficult. The band’s “experimental noise drone” is lush and expansive, but it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to music-reviewer hyperbole. These guys are too deep for words. They’ve evolved beyond these so-called “verbal sounds that express a meaning independently, that form the basic elements of speech.” That shit is played out.
Color Wheel is the duo’s third full-length release (in addition to a towering stack of cassettes, seven-inches, CD-Rs, videos and anything else lying around the tour van), and it’s a prime slab of beautiful noise. Whereas previous releases have been aggressive in their harsh tones and often overwhelmingly loud, Color Wheel shows that Growing has evolved beyond the realm of opening-act knob-twiddlers.
“Fancy Period” starts off the record. Whether or not this title is meant to evoke images of a rich woman’s menstrual cycle is beyond the point. This is captivating stuff, bringing to mind something Brian Eno would write for the 2276 Space Olympics. Rustling percussion darts back and forth amidst a sea of sound until an all-encompassing orchestral drone elevates the listener to a state of bliss. And that’s just in the first three minutes. Soon the track collapses in upon itself, morphing into a stuttering, off-kilter glitch-hop dance-track.
And already, this review has collapsed upon itself, using “sound” and “drone” as descriptive terms before resorting to made-up bullshit like “glitch-hop.”
Lyrics would help me avoid that, but those are not forthcoming. Instead, we move on to “Friendly Confines,” which sounds for all the world like the soundtracks Popul Vuh used to provide for Werner Herzog’s delirious epics on the fallibility of man. You know, classic films such as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, Wrath of God.
And on and on it goes. Highlights include the slowly developing, uh, drone of “Blue Angels” (which, upon close listen, truly reveals the spectacular range of Growing’s sonic palette) and “Peace Offering,” which deconstructs a triumphalist post-rock riff until it dies. After that it starts to sound like dead people trying to tell you what the afterlife is like.
Forget about it; I’ve tried to keep from distilling this whole sorry thing down, but I’m not getting anywhere. So here goes: Growing’s experimental drone-noise is sure to delight! I think that about sums it up. Now excuse me while I go kill myself.
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