Botany, the Texas-native, announces his debut LP, Lava Diviner (Truestory) through Western Vinyl on October 29 and has recently debuted his new track Anchor.
Botany, otherwise known as Spencer Stephenson, never resorts to shallow MPC trickery or contrived mix-tape clumsiness. Instead, his proto-new age textures float elegantly atop hip-hop influenced beats to paint a detailed, rhythmic mural.
Anchor is no exception to this. The song rises and falls in the right places. It has a beat that will instantly relax even the most unsettled mind. It’s perfect for the summer with the beginning displaying some higher pitched and unusual electronic noises which come forward and then slowly recede into the background. Set these synth noises against the hip-hop drum beat and the song becomes magical. The softly played vocals can be heard, just about, leaving the listener with a melody in their head. The vocals sound foreign and even have some Indian influences, especially the female ones. If you like Bonobo, you’ll love Botany.
Stephenson explains his influences for Lava Diviner: “On Lava Diviner, I wanted to conjure that same head space that artists like Roger Dean, and even Zdzislaw Beksinski, project in their iconic paintings.
“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 hos own life, rather than any concept or allegory.
“As work on the record progressed, I began to realise that the musical journey was a direct reflection of my most hard-to-quantify life experiences,” Stephenson 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-realised, album-length outpouring of profound human emotion.