At a casual first glance, San Francisco post-black metal outfit BOTANIST and Los Angeles-based electronic project THIEF seem to have little in common to justify a split album with six tracks from each of both acts. Yet on closer inspection, this misconception is quickly dispelled. Please see below for more details on both bands.
Introducing “Cicatrix/Diamond Brush”, which will hit stores on August 27, 2021, to complement the release of the new, third THIEF full-length on the same day (details about this other new album will soon be disclosed), BOTANIST is now unveiling the track ‘Antirrhinum’, which is taken from the split.
|“The plant with the Latin name ‘Antirrhinum’ is also known as ‘Dragon Flower’ or ‘Snapdragon'”, explains mastermind Otrebor aka Roberto Martinelli. “Its vivid name derives because of the flower’s fancied resemblance to the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth.”|
San Francisco post-black metal outfit BOTANIST and Los Angeles-based electronic project THIEF at a superficial glance seem to have too little in common that would explain their shared release of the split-album “Cicatrix/Diamond Brush”. Yet on closer inspection, there is much to connect the two acts despite their stylistic differences. Both bands have been conceived and are mostly recording as solo projects run by a single mastermind, and both multi-instrumentalists recruit live members to put their music on the stage. Yet the connection between BOTANIST‘s Otrebor aka Roberto Martinelli and Dylan Neal from THIEF runs much deeper: Dylan Neal played hammered dulcimer in the post-black metal outfit and even after officially departing from BOTANIST, he has continued to contribute as a “silent” member, for example by writing the dulcimer and bass parts for the album “Collective: The Shape of He to Come”.
This personal connection between both bands is reflected in the material of this split album. BOTANIST‘s “Cicatrix” contains previously unreleased tracks from the recording sessions of their acclaimed full-length “VI: Flora” (2014), which is also the record that Dylan toured on when the band went to Europe and delivered their legendary performance at the Roadburn Festival in 2015. The botanical term ‘cicatrix’ refers to the scarring that shows on a plant after it has been damaged and the title track points towards the damage that mankind has inflicted on the global flora. This concept easily ties in with the project’s ongoing story about a botanist, who surrounds himself with plants and flowers in a sanctuary that he calls the Verdant Realm. There he finds solace in the company of the natural world and envisions the destruction of humankind that will allow plants to make our earth green again.
While the backbone of THIEF‘s sound has been formed by manipulated sacred chant and choral samples, “Diamond Brush” prominently features live drums and electric guitars for the first time on one of their records. Thematically, Dylan explores a spiritual pursuit of awakening through the experience of transgression and suffering with allusions to Joyce, Salinger, Nabokov, and Mobb Deep. “Diamond Brush” is also intended as a companion to the third THIEF full-length, “The 16 Deaths of My Master”, which is slated for release on the same day as the split album.
“Cicatrix/Diamond Brush” constitutes essential listening to any follower of BOTANIST and THIEF.
Cover photo: (c) Lev Perrey & Ashlee Linus