Though texturally inspired by early new age records like Iasos’ Inter-Dimensional Music, and sample-based collage ventures like Colleen’s Everyone Alive Wants Answers, Lava Diviner (Truestory) is reinforced with a robust percussive backbone.
Botany, otherwise known as Spencer Stephenson, never resorts to shallow MPC trickery or contrived mixtape clumsiness. Instead, his proto-new age textures float elegantly atop a primal boom-bap pulse to paint a detailed, rhythmic mural that has the scope of a ‘70s prog rock epic.
“On Lava Diviner, I wanted to conjure that same headspace that artists like Roger Dean, and even Zdzislaw Beksinski project in their iconic paintings,” says Stephenson. “I tried to evoke those grand, colourful, surreal landscapes that are mind-bending yet oddly comforting - sci-fi and epic and holy, all at the same time.”
Following 2010’s quietly applauded Feeling Today EP, Lava Diviner (Truestory) was created at various Texas locations using a jumble of equipment, from aging desktop computers, samplers, guitars, bells, flutes, tape recorders, turntables, violin playing room-mates and much more besides. Guest vocals from Brainfeeder artist RYAT were added to the mix and the final creation was mastered by Matthewdavid (Leaving Records / Stones Throw).
As the product of a lengthy gestation period, Lava Diviner (Truestory) follows Botany on an intensely personal journey as he makes his way home within himself, returning to his celestial centre.
Loosely a concept album documenting a religious sect that prays for a volcano to erupt, Stephenson set out to make a kind of instrumental storybook of an album, using only the emotional tone that his theme might evoke.
However, by the time the record was finished, it became clear that the emotional tone was really coming from own life, rather than any concept or allegory.
“As work on the record progressed, I began to realize that the musical journey was a direct reflection of my most hard-to-quantify life experiences.” he explains. “Lava Diviner is about very real transformations in my being, so it’s a true story in that sense… I always imagined my first album being like a volcano, with years of pent-up emotion and musical ideas bubbling up to a cathartic release. So, I always knew that symbolism would end up being a part of my first full-length.”
The volcanic sense of release is palpable. Lava Diviner (Truestory) easily moves past stale tropes of beat-based music, and brings to life a fully-realized, album-length outpouring of profound human emotion.
I love the way the elements here (music box tinkles, ghostly samples, rhythmic detritus) combine into something hypnotic and balmy. All the pieces cling to each other blissfully..
Botany has a love for rhythms that'll send you running through a grassy field...uplifting melodies and twinkling sounds...
...bounces with playful drumming and handclaps, accompanied by bubbly guitars and otherworldly oohs.
...a blossoming soundscape made special by the decisive lack of formal structure.
...indeed perfectly floral.
...deliciously hypnotic and refreshingly modern.
If there's a musical equivalent to euphoria, to stomach-fizzing sense of well-being that you might feel, once in a while, on a sunny Saturday, it's Feeling Today.
Headphone-friendly rumblings dart to and fro via school of fish-like acrobatics...