Growing: Color Wheel

Whereas Growing's last outing, 2004's The Soul of the Rainbow and the Harmony of Light, presented guitar-based settings of architectural grandeur, Kevin Doria and Joe Denardo's fourth album, Color Wheel, focuses more on steely ambiance. The duo's sound is still powerful but instead of confronting towering monoliths, we now gaze upon prismatic expanses.

The psychedelic shimmer and Fennezsian stutter of the meditative “Fancy Period” establishes the tone at the outset, its sounds more synth- than guitar-like (guitar synthesizer perhaps?). Titles like “Friendly Confines” and “Peace Offering” literalize the intended mood but so too do the blurred strums and drones of their entrancing contents. And, believe it or not, the coupling of bright tones with dancing surges in “Cumulusless” is almost playful. The album's centerpiece, however, is the nearly seventeen-minute “Blue Angels” which might be taken for Growing's homage to Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting. Delicate peals introduce the piece until a humming wave rises four minutes in, the guitars eventually becoming Frippertronic fields of raga-like beauty and, ultimately, blissful glissandos. Only the closer “Green Pasture” combusts when its thrumming roar morphs into stabbing chords that blister the ears with meat-cleaver force. But aside from that late-inning gesture, Color Wheel presents Growing's sound in its most accessible light without compromising the integrity of the group's conception.

April 2006