♫♪  Botanist - “Stargazer”

Cut the ties on the scroll bearing glyphs of the Botanist saga and let it unfurl. Since 2011, Bay Area-based multi-instrumentalist Otrebor has steered his one-man avant-black-metal project through a series of concept albums that detail the conquest of humankind at the many tendriled hands of a sentient plant race — weaving scientific, philosophical, and literary research into a rich mythology intractably tethered to his sonic experimentation. Botanist proves his commitment to his extramusical ideas with each baroque album cover, roman numeral-bearing title, and liner note-laden physical product, and has established himself as a singular auteur in a style of music already rife with oversized personas and conceits. But for all its sensational details, Botanist’s thematic transfiguration into a hermit who awaits humanity’s destruction from the safety of his “Verdant Realm” serves as an exercise in humble self-negation, rather than a grandstanding gesture, by virtue of the tenets at the heart of his mythos: respect for the environment, isolation, the insignificance of humanity in the face of nature’s grandeur. Shielded behind two nested monikers (Botanist and Otrebor), the “real” person behind the project sunk into a bed of moss long ago — and we’re lucky enough to bear witness to the music issued from this hideaway.

Our notion of what constitutes black metal continues to evolve with each communique from all the Alcests and Lantlôses and Deafheavens out there, as the signifiers that the genre emphasizes (blastbeats, tremolo picked guitars, howled vocals) stand as reliable signposts within expanding cushions of synth and shoegaze guitar textures. While other artists push deeper into the drift and explore the possibilities of abstraction within an ostensibly “metal” project (as if we can reasonably carry any expectations with that distinction anymore [see for example: WITTR’s recent full-on Popul Vuh-core 2xLP opus, or pretty much every release in The Flenser’s catalog]), Botanist codes a balanced mixture of atmosphere and brutality into the DNA of his unpredictable compositions. “Stargazer,” a cut from the forthcoming VI: Flora premiering below, finds room in its expansive mix for billowing harmonium- or synth-like washes, distorted melodic leads, and bruising drum fills. The track stretches across clattering rhythms and wraith vocalizations on its way to a subdued outro performed on an instrument central to the Botanist sound: the hammered dulcimer, with tightly wound strings quivering like vines ready to snap under the force of human interference.

VI: Flora ships on August 19 via The Flenser. You can preorder the LP or CD editions now.

• Botanist: http://verdant-realm-botanist.bandcamp.com
• The Flenser: http://theflenser.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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