When I first started hanging out with my friend Jamie, there was music all over his apartment. He was a buyer at Mondo Kim’s, which, at the time, was a massive, multi-story record and video store in St. Mark’s. If you wanted to get your belly button pierced and also maybe pick up a couple Vangelis CDs, you could definitely do that on that street at just about any hour of the day. As a buyer, Jamie worked in a room in the back without windows. If I wanted to say hey to him when I was record shopping, I’d have to find the one spot in the store where I had cell phone service, text him, and hope for the best. When he finally got the text and would come out, we’d go through the store, checking out records I didn’t know too much about. Jamie put me on to a lot of out-there stuff, so when I think back on my early New York moments, the soundtrack is kind of weird. It’s not exactly ideal to get sentimental about 2006 while listening to this, you know? But it’s what t I hear in my head now when I think about that time.
One band that Jamie and I quickly bonded over was Growing. Jamie had a lot of Growing records laying around his house. Joe Denardo and Kevin Doria, the duo (in later years they would add a third member) that made up Growing, were a tiny bit older than us, went to the same college we did and moved to New York right before we did. Their music was mostly built on two guitars and effects pedals and watching them play live was fascinating. Sounds would come at a delay, so you’d see them making the noise, and then a couple seconds later you’d hear it. At points, their music would become fragmented and clipped, approaching a comfortable rhythm without ever really committing to it. It felt like free jazz in a bottleneck, with all sorts of sounds pushing against invisible walls.
“Fancy Period” The 11+ minute opener to Color Wheel, starts out as gorgeous, ambient drift, before turning into a noise piece that sounds like they’re unplugging and plugging in a shitty power cable. And as much as it takes a second to get used to that point in the song, Color Wheel is a surprisingly accessible record by today’s terms. There are no hook, there are no vocals, but the noises that are present are human and warm. They somehow manage to create good natured sounds. Later, as “Blue Angels” hums and rumbles along, it never really quite sounds ominous, which is an achievement.
It’d probably be pretty weird to look back on the conversations Jamie and I had about Color Wheel. The phrase “forward thinking” was thrown around a lot. There was probably some attempt to contextualize Growing in the same world as Timbaland and/or snap music. It was our embarrassing stab at understanding a record that maybe didn’t need to be understood as much as it just needed to be felt. Now that I’m older, and can contextualize Growing against the rest of their output, as well as a whole wide world of music, it feels good to just go with it.