All the Way (Social Registry)

Social Registry puts out some righteous jams: Gang Gang Dance, Telepathe, and Psychic Ills are all top-shelf freaks. But the Brooklyn imprint shit the bed when it signed Growing last winter. Despite creating some killer drones in '03 and '04, the duo has been in decline for more than two years now, and the trend continues with All the Way, its third release for the label. As with much of its output since relocating to New York, the album is a poorly sculpted fusion of avant-noise and minimal techno à la Basic Channel and Pan Sonic. We're talking 35 minutes of whirs, snaps, and zaps that desperately want to be Black Dice's Beaches and Canyons or even Creature Comforts, but wind up sounding more like an homage to the Terry Riley homage of the “Baba O'Riley” intro.

Growing's devolution into a Black Dice knockoff makes zero sense. Back when Kevin Doria and Joe Denardo were just stoned college kids from Olympia, Washington, they totally ruled. Like Earth's sensitive little bros, they filtered lava-oozing doom through Another Green World–era Brian Eno. That, of course, sounds like a hot-versus-cold impossibility, but the duo somehow pulled it off, creating a fuzzy throb that roasted flesh while encasing brains in foggy mist. Brutal but gorgeous, chaotic yet serene — that's what Growing were once about. So what happened? I partially blame the band's cross-country move. Once in New York, Doria and Denardo — just a couple of hippies, really — found themselves surrounded by hip urban bands uniting the dancefloor with the noise underground. And so they tried keeping up with the Joneses. But these dudes utterly lack the producer's ability to micromanage — a big fat prerequisite when experimenting with techno-inspired repetition. As a result, All the Way never really grooves; it just sputters like an infant with gas. Please, Growing: Return to the Pacific Northwest. Mother Earth needs you.

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