Botany AKA Spencer Stephenson from Denton, Texas is due to release his debut album Lava Diviner (Truestory) on 29 October.
Following 2010’s quietly applauded Feeling Today EP, Lava Diviner (Truestory) was created at various Texas locations using a jumble of equipment from ageing 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 Matthew David (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.
Stephenson said: “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.
“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.”
Botany’s Lava Diviner is certainly clever stuff. There’s thoughtfulness throughout the intricate constructions which while perhaps experimental in basis are worked into fully formed and harmonious mood music.
Austinist reviews Botany’s music: “…pieces together incredible songs with found and recycled sounds. The music he creates is dreamy and glitchy, inspired a lot by bands like Caribou and Four Tet…”
Lava Diviner (Truestory) works well as a whole. No tracks jar as being hugely different or nonsensical. Anchor has a beat, a dreamlike quality of sunshine and waves bringing in a Peter Gabriel-esque vocal chant.
The instruments are multi layered with Per Eon showing choral work threaded with harp and strings both ethereal and expectant. Simple Creatures takes you into a trance like state with the female vocals being very reminiscent of Bjork.
Quatic is particularly pleasing being prettily constructed with steel drums and a beckoning beat. Small Keys is suited for those Ibiza chill-out albums but like all the tracks, it definitely has its individuality.
The title track Lava Diviner truly brings to mind a lava flow yet the album reaches far beyond that literal interpretation. If this type of music appeals in general, Lava Diviner (Truestory) is recommended for bringing greater dimensions and colour than usually found at sundown on an exclusive Spanish party beach.
By Kate Dexter