Growing The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light

[Kranky; 2004]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: drone, ambient, musique concrète, experimental, psych
Others: Adam Forkner, Tangerine Dream, Nadja, Tyondai Braxton, Sunn 0)))


The advent of minimalism as a relatively "mainstream" aspect of, and development in, contemporary indie music has allowed artists to focus on an individual component of a musical genre, rather than simply the genre itself. Minimal techno/microhouse, for instance, has allowed musicians to focus on the intrinsic skeletal structure of the music pared down to its most basic fundamentals, with the bloated bulk of the traditional techno music completely pared away. Similarly, groups like Sunn O))) and Earth focus on paring the stoner/sludge/doom genre down to its most fundamental component: the guitar riff. Stretching the riff out as far as possible, squeezing every bit of feedback and heaviosity out of it, and repeating it over ten- to often twenty-minute intervals, these artists have created a sort of minimalist doom genre unencumbered by vocals, drums, and guitar histrionics.

Growing, who consist of guitarist Joe Denardo and bassist Kevin Doria, take this concept even further. They focus on the space between the riffs, rather than the riff itself. The feedback, endless ringing of a cymbal crash, and bass drone are brought to the forefront of the music. The music on their 2004 Kranky release, The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light, seems to linger, mesmerizingly, for an eternity. Denardo's guitar chords are sustained endlessly over the course of an entire track, and Doria's bass notes become extended, pulsating throbs that hang suspended, ultimately becoming mutant drones which needle their way into the listener's unconscious. One might describe this music as ambient doom rock, although the music is almost too atonal to be considered doom, per se, since there aren't really enough notes for this to be considered to be in a minor key.

Towards the end of the album's second half, a glimmer of light begins to peer through the darkness. The record's final track, "Primitive Associations/Great Mass Above," begins with a sample of seagulls, and then metamorphoses into an ambient space rock opus, offsetting the heaviness of the first half of the album.

The music on The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light does have the effect, however, of lulling the listener into a trance, as the tracks themselves are so long in duration (four tracks ranging between seven and almost twenty minutes in length). Song titles (e.g. "Epochal Reminiscence") almost describe the music as aptly as the music itself. This is hypnotic music for stoners who like their ambient music in the form of monolithic slabs of overdriven sludgy feedback, rather than intangibly ethereal.

1. Ornament
2. Anaheim II
3. Epochal Reminiscence
4. Primitive Associations/Great Mass Above

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