September 21, 2003

Growing "The Sky's Run Into the Sea"

Growing is a funny group. When I read that they were from Olympia, I though--"oh, these guys are related to Landing." Turns out Landing is a band on K Records who hail from Connecticut, whereas Growing, a band from Olympia, is making it big on a Chicago label. Okay, so I guess it wasn't that funny, but it's an important point, so pay attention. It's kind of shocking that they were not embraced by any one of the many diverse Olympia labels. Growing have followed the same path of beauty and noise that the city is famous for, and though someone in Olympia might say "oh, great, not another band like that," Growing shouldn't be dismissed because of it, because there's something different about them.

The Sky's Run Into The Sea, Growing's debut, is a very busy record. This trio have packed quite a lot into their songs, and you really have to pay attention, lest you miss something. "Subtle" is more than an adjective; it's apparently a major rule in Growing's code of conduct. On the surface--and it's really easy to think this when you skim the record--you could come to the false conclusion that The Sky's Run Into The Sea is just another ambient record. Scratch just below the surface, and you'll see that Growing is anything but another band.

They like to play the opposites game with their music, and they do it quite well. Loud vs soft, peaceful vs. violent, beauty vs ugly, calm yet schitzophrenic, relaxing vs unsettling--all of these things combine to create one extremely unique record. Underneath the sheets of noise and waves of beautiful drone. "Tepsije" bravely steals the main riff from the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Flown)" and quietly tucks it underneath a loud barrage of sound that could, at best, be described as a Black Sabbath-style metal. Indeed, at times Growing seems to be a much more refined, polished realization of ex-Hum mastermind Matt Talbot's flawed Centaur project, which was all riffs and no cohesiveness.

The songs on The Sky's Run Into The Sea are nothing if not challenging. "Life in D" is a perfect example of this. The song starts off slightly peaceful but then introduces some extremely loud drones. Under the surface of this horrible noise, you can hear the soft twinkle of bells. Later on, it fades into absolute silence, which is broken by the crash of a cymbal. The fact that this crash is done at random and during periods of absolute silence makes the loud sound even more ominous and even more disturbing than it already is. At the same time, it's a sure sign of brilliance if you can make a record that's both challenging and enjoyable, and though Growing can be disturbing, it can also bequite relaxing.

If epic rock music (and yes, I think of Growing as a rock band) bores you, then Growing migh not be your cup of tea. Five songs in an hour means that the music is going to be long, and indeed, three of the five songs on The Sky's Run Into The Sea stretch way past the ten minute mark. Still, you shouldn't be put off by that, because you really would be missing out on one of today's more interesting band; Growing's music is so massive and intricite that you really won't notice any kind of song change. The Sky's Run Into The Sea is not just a wonderful new addition to Kranky's roster--it's a great addition to the world of music. Here's to the future, and further growth of Growing.

--Joseph Kyle

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