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October 12th, 2011

Feeling Today EP - Botany

Western Vinyl, 2011

Review by Les Davis

Under the musical guise of Botany, the Texan musician Spencer Stephenson, delivers his many-a-genre-encompassing debut release through new label home, Western Vinyl.  The introductory EP serves as a hugely personal and ambitious project which was dedicated to his recently passed mother, and was put together in the house he was raised in.

'Feeling Today', the album’s title and opening track, is a lovely piece to start the album off with.  There is a charming feeling of space in the music, and it’s as light and airy as a summer breeze.  Opening with some delicate finger cymbals over tantalising warped sounds, the vocals elevate you nicely to a new plane and the delightful beats send you soaring through a sun-drenched sky.

Very chilled, with hints of Indian and eastern folk music, which at times, evoke subtle comparisons with some of the Chemical Brothers’ more relaxed work with hints of Nightmares on Wax thrown in as well.

The album then moves nicely into 'Minnow Theme' featuring a bit more upbeat rhythm which carries you higher into the clouds and the superb bass strings tickle the hair on the back of your neck as the sun beats more intense rays down on you. A different song from the first but carries forward the mood perfectly.

'Waterparker' changes the tempo slightly but is still upbeat with terrific highs and bases.  This track feels like more of a remix of 'Minnow Theme' with some nice cuts and a dancey beat, and although this one takes you less by surprise as the songs before it, the mood created from the first two tracks maintains the ambience and keeps you dancing behind the eyes.

The album transfers to 'Bennefactness' and although it starts off with a nice blend of wind chimes and strings, the elevating vibe then turns into a bit of a mess.  It feels a bit like despite this nice start, they just had to rush the rest to fill out the album. At this stage, the album does begin to feel a bit like it’s all stemmed from one original track and as this may not necessarily be a bad thing regarding the first three tracks this one is beginning to feel the strain. There are some lovely moments in it but it’s not as polished as the others. Lots of chimes with overlaying beats and nice rhythm but unfortunately, feels a bit “samey”.

Overall, it would be an injustice to say there is nothing new on this release and although the music here is certainly exquisite, there just aren’t many surprises.  Some good head-nodding and in no way a chore to have to listen to as I will be keeping this album in my playlist for a chilled and upbeat sound although I don't crave it like I do new music that grabs me.