Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Total Life "Bender/Drifter" (Debacle Records) by Bobby Power
Since abruptly and unofficially going on indefinite haitus in 2008 after PUMPS!, the members of Growing have kept a surprisingly low profile. The Brooklyn by way of Portland power-drone guitar/bass/pedals duo (trio for the most recent incarnation, with the inclusion of Sadie Laska on samples/vocals) had a run of releases for Kranky, The Social Registry, Troubleman Unlimited, Archive and Metal Blade, all cues of the range of sounds developed by the band. Early outings The Sky's Run into The Sea and The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light perpetuated glacially-paced drone movements flecked with shards of noise, serrated epiphanies and cavernous spaces. Then Color Wheel and the His Return EP introduced signs of change, the former incorporating a few briefer, more dynamic noise-drone-edit experiments and the latter providing a vocal-centered tune amidst two epic tracks. Growing records just seemed to effortlessly and organically sprawl across vast territories many other drone acts never could. And their fanbase seems to continue to grow to this day.
Now that that band has gone quiet, you can really see who brought what to the table. Joe Denardo has just recently begun his Ornament project, which although hasn't produced (released?) anything on record for us all to hear, having only played a set or two in Brooklyn. But Ornament's sprawling squall of live-edited, guitar excursions seems to continue PUMPS!'s post-Black Dice, ADD-drones. Kevin Doria's Total Life is now three LPs deep as a solo project, starting with a self-titled, drone-happy LP in 2006. Ken Bradshaw, the 2008 follow-up on American Dreamer and Brown Sounds, dove deep into two sidelong tracks of hyper-minimal loops that pitted a disturbed version of techno with high-minded loop experimentation.
Doria now returns with Bender/Drifter, a double stab of equally weighted, single-minded playthroughs that falls somewhere between both previous Total Life LPs. "Bender" presents a glorious take on gleefully sustained feedback. Although referencing the blemished beauty of Yo La Tengo's epic "Sunsquashed" while removing all percussion and true melody or arch, Doria brings an unbridled blast of shimmering feedback. This amplifier worship falls in line with so many great (de)generative noise and feedback experiments, celebrating natural cadence and harmony in mid-tonal resonance. Doria harps on a single chord for seemingly hours on end, like Spacemen 3's "Ecstacy Symphony" if they'd turned on their oscillators and left the studio for a pint.
The flipside's "Drifter" continues the ode to Sonic Boom by spreading out an similarly sprawling drone of oscillation. Amplifiers buzz and hum while tones naturally punctuate in a rhythm of gated pulses. Waves of tones ebb and flow into the scene providing more action than you deserve. This is by no means up to standards set by Growing at their peak, but the randomness and sheer volume of Bender/Drifter is enough to keep a little hope of the band's return.
Order and listen HERE