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Growing - His Return

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Artist: Growing

Album: His Return

Label: Troubleman Unlimited

Review date: Nov. 8, 2005

The one Growing show I’ve attended was one of the most intense sonic experiences of my life, and I was entirely unprepared. It didn’t have so much to do with volume as with an overwhelming sense of clarity, of every sound having a preordained position in time and space. I was surrounded by sound, the floor and walls pulsated with it, the air was ripe and overflowing with it. It ebbed and swelled, sometimes fragmenting into little remnants of itself before being gathered again into the limitlessly amoebic fold.

This first disc for Troubleman comes the closest to reproducing the totality of my experience with Growing as a live entity. Of course, new developments manifest themselves here, not least of which are the vocals on “Freedom Towards Death.” Recessed, heavily effected, multifariously unified as would befit any contribution to the Growing aesthetic, the voice works surprisingly well, though I’m not sure I’d recommend an album’s worth. “In the Shadow of the Mountain” is a typically amorphous slice of power-drone, this one having a kind of raga-influenced melodic concern at its core. It’s beautiful psychedelia for those who want the drone without the dirt, and Robert Fripp’s solo soundscapes form the closest point of comparison.

The standout track, though, is the 16-minute “Wide Open”, which it most certainly is. Again, this is a bit of retroraga fuzzbliss, but infinitely more subtle, as repeated melodic patterns chase and swirl around each other throughout in gorgeous counterpoint. The track emerges, painfully slowly, from a whisper, ultimately absorbing everything in a focused roar which in turn degenerates into something approaching white noise; all fragments and stops suddenly at the end, and while this might have been a natural outcome of whatever processes were in play in recording, it seems a cheap shot in light of the sublimity gone before, the only disappointing moment of a really fine disc. I’ll be curious to see which of their own prescriptions Growing follow for their next full-length.

By Marc Medwin

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