Finnish four-piece Renate/Cordate (also stylized lowercase as renate/cordate) were last heard from with their early 2013 self-titled debut full-length (review here), which was a solidly constructed and smooth sounding execution of heavy psychedelia. Reminiscent at times of My Sleeping Karma‘s ultra-fluid push, it showed the then-instrumental outfit had room to grow but already a decent idea of what they were going for tonally and in terms of process. A good start, in other words. Twenty-one months later, they return with Growth, which the respected purveyor Breathe Plastic Records will release on tape in December, their sophomore outing comprised of four mostly extended tracks that come from a different enough stylistic base that I had to double-check and make sure I was listening to the same band the first time I put it on. With only one of the four cuts under 10 minutes long, Renate/Cordate have blown out their expansion to a cosmic degree, churning opener “Evolve, Submit” around Ufomammut-style repetition and following a psychedelic doom path of deep-echoing vocals around what seems a chaos swirl of massive tonality, hypnotic and deep. Working with Niko Lehdontie of countrymen psychedelonauts and Svart Records inductees Domovoyd to add extra effects to the wash, Renate/Cordate – the same lineup as last time of guitarists Ville and Samuli (the latter also vocals), bassist Aki and drummer Antti-Pekka — present such a stylistic turn that I’m tempted to think of Growth as a debut and of the self-titled as a demo for how much more solidified and clear-headed in their purpose the band seems to be. At very least, you could say the album is aptly-named.
And if the shift in sound is jarring, it’s bound to be less so for anyone who didn’t hear Renate/Cordate‘s debut and for whom Growth marks their first exposure to their work. It is an expansive 43 minutes, still perhaps vinyl-ready, though they’d more likely get rid of third track “Laudanum” and dedicate the whole of side B to the 17-minute closer “Mother” for ease of time. Side A, then, would be the back-to-back 10-minute post-doom wallops of “Evolve, Submit” and “Humankind (Not My Kind),” which quickly announce the band’s new direction in their sprawl and atmospheric take. The record is a big jump from where they were last year, and clearly a purposeful one, but not all of the elements from Renate/Cordate, the album, are gone. One can still hear the airy ringing of Russian Circles-style post-rock guitar presiding over the mix as the opener rolls past its third minute and into the first of Growth‘s encompassing space-doom nods. Heavy crashing leads to a quiet break of minimalist guitar — one of their most Ufomammut moments — and “Evolve, Submit” explodes again into cascades of echoing riffs that set a lot of the atmospheric course for what follows, rounding out with a long fade of feedback into dreamy synth that pushes forward into the quiet guitar opening of “Humankind (Not My Kind),” which is more about the tradeoffs than was “Evolve, Submit,” but no less ably conceived. An extended subdued intro builds for the first three and a half minutes before pushing into its first heavier section. The lull has the effect of drawing a listener further in, and should Renate/Cordate continue in this direction — after the difference between their first two albums, I wouldn’t speculate as to where they might go on a third — I wouldn’t be surprised to find them toying more with that feeling of stillness and the juxtaposition against pummeling riffs, but even here, they’re able to transition easily from light to heavy and heavy to light, as they do on “Humankind (Not My Kind),” taking the song all the way down to silence before rebuilding their way to the tone-wash apex that ends out.
The shorter “Laudanum” follows and is more immediate in its riffing though ultimately just as spacious as the rest of what surrounds, even finding room in its six minutes for a jammy midsection break that boasts some especially satisfying guitar work holding the tension until the heavier tones reemerge and thrust into a louder and louder burst of noise. If there are vocals — and there might well be — they are buried deep enough in the mix that they’re indistinguishable from a sample. All you get is a vague human presence, and it works to the song’s advantage, cutting out right before the thrust of the final echoing solo, deconstructed along with everything else to bring about the 16:53 concluding statement, “Mother.” Begun on a foundation of bass and drums backed by swirl and ambient noise, “Mother” unfurls essentially as a combination of everything else Renate/Cordate do on the album structurally, bridging the gap between a loud/quiet interplay and an extended linear build by simply doing both. Before its first four minutes are through, it has built up and peaked and moved to an ethereal, almost jazzy peacefulness, but the crushing reignites several minutes later, only to once again fall back past seven minutes in. This is the key transition, since the band uses this stillness as the starting point for the trip to to Growth‘s last crescendo. The turn happens right around the 12:30 mark, but by then, it’s less about payoff than just going where the band takes you, and that winds up being Renate/Cordate‘s greatest success with their second album. They’ve accomplished this change in style, which is all well and good, but they’ve managed to hold onto the immersive nature of what they did on their self-titled as well, and that only makes the ending of “Mother” more consuming and thus more satisfying. Yes, it’s wildly heavy, and yes, it’s a suitable ending, but what leaves an even more resonant impression is the ability of the band to retain their control over their sound even at its most unbridled. If they do wind up staying on this path, or if they don’t, that can only serve them well as they continue to progress.
[PLEASE NOTE: I’ve been given permission by Renate/Cordate to host a full stream of Growth for your listening pleasure. I hope you’ll give it a shot on the player below and enjoy.]
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!