Growing
The Sky’s Run Into the Sea
Kranky
2003
C+



you can’t readily tell where exactly the sea and the sky merge on the cover to Growing’s first release for the Kranky label. It’s a neat little metaphor used by the band to describe the sort of music that they make: easy at first listen to dismiss as the sort of drawn out ambience of many other Kranky acts, but upon further review a far more interesting proposition.

“A Painting” does little to dispel this notion as the opening track. The rolling cymbals near the beginning of the composition seem more anachronistic than anything else. It is in the lengthy Playthroughs-esque sound experiment of the second-half that the listener can ascertain what Growing is chasing after. The contrast between the two sections is a disconcerting one- the two seem so at odds with one another that becomes unclear as to what the group is trying to achieve.

This trend of pleasant ambience, however, continues on “Tepsihe (All Music is Folk Music).” It is the sound of an overdriven guitar squall tamed by an expert musician into stunning walls of noise. But, at the same time, the track is mixed loudly- making one wonder whether this is supposed to be pleasant or irritating. Depending on your volume level, it’s the listeners choice until Growing makes it plain with a huge drum hit- this one is meant to be played loud.

“Southern Rites,” then, is the calm before the epic final storm. The track is a five minute legato hymn- the guitar player hesitantly plucking the same melodic line over and over again, unsure of whether to stop or to go on. Over a bed of hazy drone, the track is easily the hidden highlight on the album, situating itself in between longer and less overtly melodic pieces.

The climactic “Pavement Rich in Gold” starts in much the same manner but soon evolves into something far more sinister. It’s hard to explain adequately, but imagine if the Fucking Champs slowed down their songs to a snail’s pace and took out the drums in favor of their voices. The obvious other reference point is Yume Bitsu- but the metal influence is too omnipresent to make that a tenable comparison.

Because as much as Yume Bitsu want listeners to be relaxed by their soundscapes, Growing are far more interested in a sort of pummeling envelope of sound. This is not all-encompassing ocean of sound. This is an all encompassing typhoon.

This isn’t necessarily clear in the opening tracks of the album, but taken in conjunction with their absolutely deafening live show and the metal leanings on this later track- Growing show themselves to be ostensibly a Kranky band- but one that seeks to bowl over, rather than lull into hypnosis. Enjoy it at 11.
Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-18
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