I remember the first time I heard Botanist’s bizarre debut album “I. The Suicide Tree/II. A Rose From the Dead.” I didn’t know what the hell I was hearing, what was going on, how to digest the unconventional sounds. But it sunk in, and soon I was hooked. I’d never heard anything like this, both musically and philosophically, and the double-album ended up making our top 40 records of 2011.
The creation of Otrebor, a one-man band who handles drums, hammered dulcimer and vocals – the only instruments that embodied his first transmissions – Botanist’s music wasn’t just a collection of 40 songs, most of which were fast and over quickly. They were the start of Armageddon, the end of humanity. But that end of humankind wasn’t going to come at the hands of other humans, wouldn’t be sparked by a nuclear war, would not be delivered by a super virus. Instead, that path to destruction would be brought on by the character the Botanist, a crazed man of science who isolated himself in the Verdant Realm, away from the toxic machinations of mankind as he awaited the end.
Now, we’re greeted with the next chapter of the story, “III: Doom in Bloom,” an album (scheduled out on Totalrust) that not only extends the plot further but also finds Otrebor branching out his compositions. The songs are longer, more plodding, more musical. It’s an impressive, riveting, terrifying continuation of the Botanist’s quest (and we get to understand more about the voice feeding him the plot), and it’s bound to surprise the hell out of you if you’re already familiar with Botanist’s music.
Otrebor, who I’ve gotten to converse with a bit over the last 12 months, is a thought-provoking, passionate individual when it comes to his craft and this tale, and we are beyond thrilled and honored to be the first place to present “Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II),” the opening track from “III: Doom in Bloom,” in its glorious entirety. My jaw dropped the first time I heard this song, and I’ve gone back over it repeatedly and a bit obsessively. Check out this incredible epic for yourself, then read what Otrebor himself had to say about the song and how it fits into whole picture. And come back tomorrow as we debut the first song from the accompanying “Allies” disc. That one will knock you on your ass, too.
Meat Mead Metal: You’ve chosen to reveal the song “Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II).” It’s also the opening cut on “III: Doom in Bloom.” Why did you decide to pick this song as the first track people would hear? Is it as simple as it’s the first track on the album?
Otrebor: Sure, it’s partially as simple as it being the first track, but it’s the first track for a reason.
“Quoth Azalea, the Demon (Rhododendoom II)” is the track that best exemplifies the spirit and intent of III overall in terms of sound, mood, and story. Most immediately, it presents the stylistic and sonic direction that III took: long-format songs, slow tempos, heavy drumming, and blown-out acoustic instrumentation. You’ll get a sense of that within the first 30 seconds. I also like how the song resolves. Although it’s the longest track on the album, it sets the mood for what succeeds it.
Thematically, “Rhododendoom II” is the most representative of the album, sort of like the title track, as it further develops the character alluded to in “Rhododendoom I,” namely the demon Azalea. Azalea is portrayed as the entity that speaks to The Botanist and directs him on how to help bring about the fall of mankind and the rise of the Plantae Kingdom. These directions and the portrayal of Azalea’s character can be seen in any number of contexts: fantastical, literal, metaphorical, magickal, schizophrenic… the interpretation is up to the listener. The whispered parts on the song (and largely on any Botanist song in general) represent Azalea’s directions, about how The Botanist is to go about his mission of helping to bring about the floral apocalypse, how he will be the last of humanity to be erased, but rather than be extinguished, how he will be incorporated into the overall energetic pool of all floral entities, known as the Chlorophyllic Continuum, in which The Botanist will essentially be transformed into a plant, his ultimate reward.
MMM: How does the new album carry over from parts I and II. How is it a continuation of the story/mission?
Otrebor: All Botanist songs will forever be primarily about the glorification of the Plantae Kingdom. Whether the tone be more vitriolic, more mystic, more poetic, or merely a chronicling of floral form and function, that core mission will be unchanged. The main development of the universe of this project has been talked about in the previous question, but I can add here that the cover art is MS Waldron’s depiction of Azalea speaking to The Botanist. More developments are scheduled in albums to come.
III’s sonic continuation, or better put, progression, is more remarkable. We talked about that in the previous question. The small but important point about the progression is that the form of III is not to be construed as Botanist’s “new direction,” but rather the direction that III went in. Each Botanist release is what it is, and of course similarities in style and sound will inevitably be apparent the more albums are released, but the intent with this project is to make works that have something importantly distinct from one another, while still maintaining the unalterable, core ground rules of botanical-themed music driven by hammered dulcimer and drums.
Botanist’s albums, including III and the debut, I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From the Dead, can be purchased digitally and physically from the band’s Bandcamp, (www.verdant-realm-botanist.bandcamp.com), from Aquarius Records (www.aquariusrecords.org), or directly from the label (www.totalrust-music.com).