Posted on August 20th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Matt LaBarbera

Though perhaps not as often considered as one of the more visible arenas of cultural production, the garden, especially as defined by the two major occidental design paradigms, speaks a great deal. The sculpted jardin à la française, natura naturata, and the verdant overbloom of the British garden, natura naturans, inform not only an aesthetic perspective, but a fundamental relationship to creation and the natural processes. The garden is either created, the former, or creating, the latter. Is the world shaped and static, perfected through some architectural symmetry, or is it developing along a horizon of possibility, spawning new radicles at every point it can? The gardener, in this microcosmic sense, becomes as a god, shaping or abetting. The same can be said of all artists in general. Is art the seed and its growth or the final product, shaped and shaved to form? Angel Deradoorian’s debut album, The Expanding Flower Planet, seems equipped to entertain such a question. After all, the title itself invokes an incessant radial bloom, but even more so, the extreme care of the album’s construction refuses to betray its position as either created or creating, cutting a twisted horticulture of leftfield pop, wild and woolly, yet somehow refined.

Most will probably recognize Deradoorian immediately from her voice, a fixture of the Dirty Projectors’ sonic toolbox and just as present in Avey Tare’s project Slasher Flicks. Although, far from an a capella album, Deradoorian’s debut relies most heavily on her voice, both as a vehicle for her lyrics and as asemic fragments of sound, multiplied and scattered throughout the music. Her voice, while light yet not exactly seraphic, takes on an earthy, foundational quality as it undergirds nearly each track on the album. The album opens with the voice bereft of language, a watery echoing ah on “Beautiful Woman.” Despite the fluid bassline and loose percussion, the real propulsive force behind the cut is her voice, in a rising-falling puff, repeated throughout the entire duration, crowding the scene with herself refracted endlessly.

Burgeoning in wordless melisma, The Expanding Flower Planet is a phthongal garden. Deradoorian as its articulator and architect accomplishes this through an intense control of the recklessness of her own expressive facility. Consequently, the instrumentation, while certainly eclectic and excellently executed, takes a backseat to her voice in all of its many forms. “Komodo” which features a plinking harpsichord—music for a British garden, perhaps—is ultimately defined by a dour synth line and, of course, a voice that soars, simmers and susurrates, sometimes all at once.

Still, when the instrumentation succeeds, it does so with aplomb. The rattling, rumbling snake charmer guitar line from “DarkLord” and the spacey shuffle of “Your Creator” both manage to sit alongside Deradoorian’s hortulan articulations. The stylistic free-for-all serves an artist like her well giving her an opportunity to demonstrate her instrument in a variety of contexts. In that way, the entire record feels loosely conceptual in its lack of apparent unity. That’s not to say the tracks are jarring as they move from one to the other, but rather that nothing feels particularly forced or cropped. It’s not a logical progression, but instead an artistic profusion, little plant-like tendrils issued forth by some phonotropism.

It should surprise absolutely no one that one of the primary inspirations for The Expanding Flower Planet is the mandala. After all, the mandala is a garden. It’s diagrammatical of the universe, of creation and all things contained within it. It’s a plan for growth, a radiation of potential along the axes of the outer and inner worlds. The final song of the album, “Grow,” closes with the selfsame word repeated mantra-like. It’s not a simple command towards boundless fecundity, but an exhortation of healing and reconciliation, calling for a more appropriate posture towards each other and nature. She demands an opening of the self, an unfurling of petals to greet the new wisdom and understanding the world requires of us. It cuts a line between natura naturata and naturans, a notion of being created—not having been created—towards some expanded end. Deradoorian positions herself neither as some cruel mower nor absent-minded, edenic horticulturalist, but instead as someone with a vision of meaningful communion.

Track List:

  1. A Beautiful Woman
  2. Expanding Flower Planet
  3. Violet Minded
  4. Komodo
  5. Your Creator
  6. The Invisible Man
  7. DarkLord
  8. Ouneya
  9. The Eye
  10. Grow
Deradoorian - The Expanding Flower Planet Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

75 / 100
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