Raw Light II is a collection of tracks meant to accompany Botany's 2015 long-player, Dimming Awe the Light is Raw, which sees its wide-release vinyl reissue on January 20th. Originally conceived as a separate album forming parallel to Dimming Awe, this companion piece confidently stands toe-to-toe with its forerunner in breadth and execution. Where the previous iteration made plenty of room for guests (Milo, Ryat, Matthewdavid) the sequel is a solitary showcase of inebriating instrumentals that connect to the Austin composer's aesthetic main artery despite their stylistic diversity. Consistent with Spencer Stephenson's previous output, there is a playfully adept balance of abstraction and structure on Raw Light II that elevates mere beat-tape sequentiality into something holistic and cinematic. Album opener "No Heed" walks us through the front door with dusty existential weariness, building with a pulse like something beating on the basement hatch, finally busting through into the daylight by track two. From there Stephenson spins threads of mature optimism-- upbeat but never naive, and always insinuating some deeper emotional vantage. "Janis Joplin," created when Stephenson lived across from a former home of the late rock songstress, hits hard with overtones of barely-restrained aggression that conjure the temperament of the song's unlikely namesake. Tracks like "The Strangeways" and "Wednesday Oct 28 2015" are steeped in odd charm, writhing upward towards the heavens with medicated grins. Finally, album closer "Tetherball" leads us out with repeated off-kilter pulses that swing for the chakras and never relent. Raw Light II is yet another rejuvenating trip through the mind of an adventurous and heartfelt sound-smith who's always eager to bring us along for the journey.
released January 20, 2017
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