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Growing - Color Wheel

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Artist: Growing

Album: Color Wheel

Label: Megablade

Review date: Jun. 5, 2006

Growing: Less an experience for the ears, more one for the entire body. Live, they've developed a rare power, an ability to knock people flat, upsetting equilibriums while melding nature sounds and pummeling low-end with sweetly melodic guitar drones that form an expansive cocoon around an audience. Though their attack is relatively simple, it's one Kevin Doria and Joe Denardo do well; their records strike a neat balance between the sheer beauty and placidity of their tones and the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring volume required to truly appreciate them.

The textures that Growing normally create on disc and in a live setting are endlessly palatable, structured not to provoke or confront but rather to induce prolonged ecstatic bliss. Though they don't stray too far from that template on Color Wheel – their first real full-length for Troubleman's Megablade imprint – their latest effort introduces enough subtle shifts to suggest that this duo isn't necessarily content with riding that mantric crest ad infinitum.

The most noticeable turn here is one away from the expected and unfettered plunge into drone-based templates. With Color Wheel, Denardo and Doria rupture their tones, introducing billowing distortion punctures and fractured bursts of processed riffs that give an oddly rhythmic counterpoint to their traditional synaesthetic drift. "Fancy Period" opens with the expected sway and gauzy shimmer that has nodded countless heads in their brief existence, but halfway through they hit that dime and stop – short circuits and pregnant pauses erupt, the usual ecstatic payoff gets postponed. "Peace Offering" works a similar angle, favoring sliding, half-submerged guitar lines that ebb and flow into more ominous wave breaks. Meanwhile, guitars replicate clipped violin phrases on "Cumulusless," as synth patches burble alongside and hold off the rising rush of gentle feedback. The overall effect isn't so much a marked contrast to anything the band has done before, but rather an intriguing ripple, an attempt to lull through rhythm instead of just sound.

Even with these added dynamics, "Blue Angels" and its towering glaze traffic is the sort of ambience that colored much of the band's earlier work. By far the longest piece on the album, it builds steadily, wrapping speaker cones in walls of hum and crush, evoking a swarm of those titular jets whirring over genteel pastures through massive sonorities. It forms a strange centerpiece to the album, providing an almost paradoxical sea of calm to a record full of more pronounced disruptions and curious sidebars into less passive terrain.

Growing have always stood out from their more rock-inclined contemporaries. No strangers to endless drone pastorals, they still have managed to imbue their music with a sense of melody and an almost carefree, contemplative mindset that seems to put them at odds with the bands that generally surround them. And though Color Wheel comes across as a departure into more complex (and occasionally harsher) structures and sounds, it still drinks from the same well that has inspired much of the band's output up until now. The tracks may jar a bit more than they ever have before, but there's a calming ease with which Doria and Denardo pursue their music, allowing them a transcendence other so-called drone bands can only approximate. More now than ever before, Growing's music begs for total immersion.

By Michael Crumsho

Other Reviews of Growing

The Sky’s Run Into The Sea

The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light

His Return


All the Way


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