GARDENER “Heavy Everything” C48 (Moss Archive)

Cultivation makes it happen. Isn’t that how it works? The process is just as important as the result, especially with green-thumbs like Gardener at the helm. “Organic” is a great term to describe the development of any musical endeavor by Dash Lewis (Make Noise), and the slow growth of Heavy Everything is no exception. Over its four long pieces, you can easily lose yourself in the rich soil as it teems with life; go ahead, lay down in it – the sounds you’ll hear promote the healthy progressive patterns of any plant life that will, over time, envelope you, making you part of its environment. It’s like that scene in (SPOILER ALERT!) Aronofsky’s The Fountain where Hugh Jackman’s conquistador character drinks the sap from the tree of life and immediately falls over as utterly rapid flora springs from his body, immortalizing him in its grand cycle. Gardener’s meditative synthesizer kraut-drone exercises feel like time-lapse plant growth, seeds quickly germinating and pushing through the earth, stalks reaching skyward for warmth and moisture. I realize that “slow growth” and the quickness of “time-lapse plant growth” lend a paradoxical description to the music, but each characteristic is apt depending on what angle you’ve cocked your ear to while listening. You could even spin your ear all the way around, like the head of an owl, for a completely different perspective, reveling instead in the synthetic tones, far removed from naturalism’s safe warmth. Here machines dominate in a utopian future realm, lights blink from all directions, electric waves pulse and shimmer, and evolutionary progress is discernible to the surprised eye. But deep down there’s that humanness that Lewis injects – he’s nothing if not a keen interpreter of human feeling, and the emotion that clearly inhabits his pieces “fertilizes,” shall we say, the resulting grand statements. But then, over Heavy Everything’s final eleven minutes, “Calgary in March” becomes so overwhelmingly earthbound and now that it’s crazy you didn’t realize it in the first place. Synthesizer springtime rebirth, the plants emerge again, just like – yes, another movie reference (SPOILER ALERT!) – M. Night Shayamalan’s The Happening. Only this time, in Gardener’s capable hands, the premise isn’t remotely stupid.

--Ryan Masteller