There are dozens of YouTube videos focused on helping viewers engage in meditation. Some people are detractors and skeptics, most likely believing that chanting the mantra Om to reach inner peace is hooey. Others are open to stuff like this. Take me, for instance. I clicked on a random meditation video, sat semi-uncomfortably with my legs crossed, and chanted Om with my eyes closed for around fourteen minutes before the placebo effect kicked in and I thought that I totally understood all life’s mysteries. Subjectively, it was great. Outside of that, however, the exercise was a mild irritant to my roommate, who pretty much blasted the nearest U2 CD. Life in those fourteen minutes became a padding of sound to everyone else.
This is where LA-based Experimental Pop artist Deradoorian comes in. Her album The Expanding Flower Planet takes different landscapes, atmospheres, and volumes and shapes them in a way that’s particularly crooked. The musician organizes the album in a way that initially feels like it was for musical theatre, opting for a lot of extravagance that frequently has her novel vocals lose their lustre by the end of the record. The listener is engaged in this artificial mandala that is her music, but inner peace is difficult to find with some pandering on Deradoorian’s part. It’s like chanting “99 Bottles of Beer” on the bus to a field trip and wanting the hellish journey to stop before bottle 80.
Though this padding out of songs is a problem, she does offer enough content to make this album fair for the patient. “A Beautiful Woman” takes a luscious amazon feeling, complete with tribal drums, and wraps it around the wavy harmony of the chorus. For those experiencing Deradoorian’s vocals for the first time, it is a treat, as she always seems like something is exploding in front of her.
“Expanding Flower Planet” uses a synth to emulate panpipes and drops of water, contributing to the nature in the previous track. The screams are at their most novel at this early point of the album. “Violet Minded” approaches classic rock without actually replicating it, instead touching on ’70s rock beats. Unfortunately, this, and the next track “Komodo” suffer from feeling too long to express the concept of a harsh terrain with no hope to bask in. “Grow” is the worst offender when it comes to mindless extensions.
Thankfully, “Your Creator” brings listeners into a meta-journey. The previous tracks enveloped you in imagined landscapes, while this song takes your imagined self into your head and releases your inner hippy. Odd pinball sounds ruin the natural sense of the song. It’s hard to think of yourself as a sage when technology is so tempting. Another interesting track is “The Invisible Man,” which manages to fuse the sound of The Cranberries and simple shoegaze in a likeable way. The drumming is also a high point on the track.
“The Eye” has an urgency to it that is mostly uncharacteristic when compared to the rest of the track list. It has a desperate and dark melody, with some scarily whirring bass, and, to finish it off, a really near dancehall beat. The songs that do not feel like they were from a musical have a better shine to them instrumentally than the ones that glow in concept.
Can this album be both a theatre piece and a casual listen? Not everyone will have the patience to listen to this album, and questioning how the record positions itself will make you second-guess things. But isn’t meditation suppose to bring you clear focus? It’s a fair release.
Dustin Ragucos is a writer of things fictional, poetic, and musical. His main loves include Death Grips and Indie music. Dustin’s blog is host to a weekly blurb about albums old and new.