by Century Plants

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Century Plants "Bloodrise" (Peasant Magik, 2007).

Century Plants' sound becomes continuously more focused with each successive release. This beautifully packaged 3" disc documents Century Plants' first live performance, and what a powerful event it must have been to witness. The set is an extremely focused twenty minutes that builds from a distant gust into a mighty maelstrom of sound that takes over your mind for its entire duration.

The layering of sound is really pertinent on this recording, as each layer reveals an intricate subtly underneath its frozen surface. Delicate textures and distant moans weave their way through a howling wind of guitar skree. The most intriguing new feature to the Century Plants' arsenal are the vocals; distant guttural utterances pull the listener deep into the dark swirling miasma of "Bloodrise" expounding unintelligible diatribes, whispering secrets of the universe, or something else equally arcane.

The mood offered up here is extremely tense, dark and utterly spellbinding. Every time I listen I get sucked in further, revealing a rich tapestry of textures. It's a difficult recording to do anything to but listen; focus keeps shifting back to the music, placing you in a deep trance. The sheer intensity of this set can almost be overwhelming, even in the end when things begin to dissipate the tension remains as an eerie near silence ensues. That is until the clapping snaps you out of Bloodrise's dark trance, and forces you back to reality. Its rather uncertain what could happen if one were left alone to face that ending without the reminder that you're listening to a performance and not lost in a dark abyss. 9/10

My apologies for not having posted in a bit. I was on a roll there over break, but things seemed to have largely halted since returning to school. Well, halt no more, for I have returned from a voyage northward (Saratoga Springs, to be exact) where I bore witness to the work of two heroes of the modern realm, Century Plants and Sunburned Hand of the Man. Though I must say, the crowd at this thing was not quite what I expected. Alot of parents and little kids running around isn't exactly what one finds at this kind of show but hey, it was so. Everyone was politely seated in front of the stage mingling, and me and my cohorts kept looking around and trying to figure out whether any of these people knew what they had gotten themselves into. Figured it was friends and family of the Plants' crew as it wasn't that far from their stomping grounds, but nay, Eric informed me afterwards. Just Arts Council regulars I guess.

Despite the crowd, council was held indeed. Century Plants opened and they were stellar with their duel guitar gravity hammers. The crowd was a bit nervous it looked, but they got into it eventually and were surprisingly willing to engage with the stuff so I guess powers of good do remain in the world. Sunburned followed and despite about ten minutes of chatter in the beginning of the set they had that place doing the Binger Blitz in no time, fists pumping, little girls doing ballet, etc. Figures that the kids were the ones really getting into it, as their naive ears are yet to be turned on to the smooth sounds of Kenny G and the like. Can I hear a hallelujah?!

So after the show, of course, I picked up some merch. Century Plants were nice enough to introduce themselves and lay a Peasant Magik 3" on me for free seeing as how they had read my last review and all. I snagged the other two they were selling and a nice Sunburned tape which is sure to get the review treatment soon enough as well. Nice night for the buyins, as was to be expected.

So I had heard a lot of hype over this Bloodrise number and, as I mentioned in the last Century Plants review, it was a show that I actually attended but had missed due to late arrival, so it's nice to at least have it on record. But boy was I bummed to have found out I missed this one. The first minute or so is just ringing approach, kinda like those ripples in the glass of water when the T. Rex approaches in Jurassic Park. You know what I'm talking about. Then the train arrives, and its all dense no-man's land drone from there out. Whereas everything else I've heard by the duo is pretty guitary--not to say that they don't coax some whiley snippets from their strings--this one is all shimmering drenched out reverb mayhem. Like demons surrounding you on your decent to hell, whispering in your ears about the horrors that they have and will commit. And bats. Lots of bats. Hell, this shit is downright gothic, some kind of descent into the wildery depths of the darkest holes.

It's not really important to know just what's making the sounds on this 20 minute knock-out. Vocals definitely make their way in and out in some form or another, even a cymbal crash or something. But mostly this is just steady riffy droning. Six minutes in, and there's no looking back. The hole was scary before, but now it's kill or be killed, and I've never seen Century Plants back down from a battle of survival. There aren't many units out there that can create something with this much character or depth. A certain intimacy is attainable when you only have one other person to converse with, and they create a deep sonic spectrum that holds maximum potential for slight changes that cause seismic shifts in the weight of the work. All sounds ring freely off the walls of the Helderberg House (or Palace, as it's referred to in the stunning--no, really--packaging) basement. Maybe that's why it's so cold in this one. Just two guys wailing in the confines of an Albany basement.

Maybe it was John and Tovah Olson in attendance, maybe it was the crowd, or maybe it was the drugs that warm summer's eve. Whatever it was, Bloodrise slays, displaying new depth for an already exciting outfit. I liked Century Plants before. From here on, I'm gettin it all.


released December 1, 2007

Ray Hare
Eric Hardiman



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Century Plants Albany, New York

Century Plants are Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman.

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