In their groundbreaking work, A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari defined the rhizome as an alternate model for thought and political analysis. In their words:
We’re tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots, and radicles. They’ve made us suffer too much. All of arborescent culture is founded on them, from biology to linguistics. Nothing is beautiful or loving or political aside from underground stems and aerial root, adventitious growths and rhizomes.
The powerful thing about the concept of the rhizome is that once you start to experiment with it, you find it everywhere you look whether that be in organizations, social circles, or political structures. A good example: music journalists are rhizomes. Even though they (we) carefully cultivate a singular personality, a curated taste for listeners/readers to follow and enjoy, we’re actually rhizomes, made up of the networks which we use to find new music. I’ve had this question asked of me many times: how do you discover so much new stuff and know what to listen to and what not to listen to? While that process does involve a lot of individual work, it’s also powered by rhizomatics (as we might call the craft of using rhizomes); I have a large network of friends which I trust, some of them on the Heavy Blog staff and some of them elsewhere, which I “tap” for interesting music and discoveries.
The most recent example of music brought to me via this network is Chrome Ghost‘s The Diving Bell, a 2019 release that I had otherwise missed. It came to me through a listener of the podcast that I’ve been emailing with, by the name of Nathan Weatherford. He sent me this album with an admonition to listen to it; even though a promo for it had been lying in my inbox, his recommendation is what caused me to first pressed play and boy, am I glad I did. Chrome Ghost make the kind of emotional, evocative doom that many bands have been trying to make in the wake of Pallbearer‘s meteoric success. The difference is, Chrome Ghost have enough personality and interesting ideas to actually make it work, making The Diving Bell an excellent addition to this fast growing and already established genre.
At the base of The Diving Bell lies a familiar contrast, the contrast between ethereal vocals (like you can find on the album’s first track or, even more prominently, on the title track itself) and the more “melodic” atmosphere they create with the other instruments and hard-hitting, chunky riffs. Tune in to the aforementioned opening track, “Waltz in the Shadow of the Hillside”, for an example of that kind of riff. It lies near the end of the track, around the seven minute mark, when the slow series of chords which makes up the majority of the track lurches and returns as a faster, more aggressive version of itself. The riff will immediately remind you of Inter Arma or Yob‘s faster moments but it has enough swagger and personality of its own that its intimately engrossing instead of just being a reference point. These kind of touches, transforming the slower “meat” of the track into something that just reeks posture and verve is what makes Chrome Ghost belong up there with those names in their own right.
Check out the end of the title track from some downright nasty iterations on this darker them, touching upon ground covered by bands like Downfall of Gaia. When you play all of those darker ideas off of the decidedly more melancholic, atmospheric, and even grunge-tinged parts, you get one hell of a captivating album. It just hits all the points of contemporary doom just right, flirting with the tropes of the genre as it stands today while subverting them in clever ways at just the right moments to keep you listening. It’s a damn fine example of rhizomatics at work, goading me to listen to something I might have looked passed otherwise. So, I explore you to recognize your own networks (we all have them) and to start cultivating them consciously; you’ll find your life suddenly improved in all sorts of little ways. Oh, and one last thing: thanks Nathan!