Review Summary: Trip to it, roll with it, chill on it. The prototype for 'jamtronica' is here, and if you haven't heard it yet, flip it on and listen as it melts your sorrows away
The electronically geared jam banders known as Lotus
formed in 1999 at the small Mennonite college of Goshen in Indiana. While none of their LPs have gone onto major sales, they are known by festival go-ers across the US for their innovative light shows and stage presence modeled after acts like Phish
and The Grateful Dead
. Having appeared at Summer Camp, Wakarusa, Mountain Jam, Starscape, Electric Forest, Red Rocks, Camp Bisco, Outside Lands and North Coast Festival amongst others this past year, they have performed in front of all kinds of audiences.
But before they were well known enough to embark on such an extensive tour, they first got themselves serious attention with the release of Nomad
, their 2nd LP, and the attention was well-deserved. Their out of the ordinary sound grabs influences from Aphex Twin
and Tangerine Dream
and gives it an infusion of bluegrass and funk. But as bizarre as this marriage sounds, they make it all work so seamlessly you would never second guess it.
“We’ll travel on this road” repeats a robotic voice throughout the track ‘Travel’, and in it a mantra of the album is conveyed. As soon as the captivating and smooth beats of ‘Suitcases’ set things in motion, Lotus is content to stick with long grooves, playing around with rather than altering the flow. That is to say, they prefer to go along with the sounds they create rather than establish an entirely new beat at the close of each track. Consistently giving off a loungy feel, what sets this LP apart from others is its liveliness, never making you feel the need to slump down, but instead giving off a consistent high that almost never lets up.
But there are a couple of pauses or alterations to this groove. Album highlight ‘Spiritualize’ is an uplifting track that stands tall and seems to elevate itself above the others. It manages to pick up and raise the mood of any room, giving vibes of connectedness and peace within surroundings that brim with importance. Track closer ‘Colorado’, however, takes things in the opposite direction entirely. Immediately coming off of the high of ‘Jump Off’, there’s an inexplicable sadness that gorgeously hovers all about. The most personal track on here, listening makes us feel in touch with our own being, and though feelings of weakness and powerlessness pervade, it seems ok that we’re feeling these things because they were always outside our control anyway.
Perhaps this album can be thought of as a more grounded version of what Flying Lotus
has done, a band that is often confused with Lotus
due to the similarity in name. Whereas Steven Ellison flies about in all directions at once, experimenting with strange sounds, splicing and merging incomprehensibly, Lotus is more grounded and approachable but just as mystical and experimental.
Musically, Lotus never reinvents the wheel, but that’s part of their charm. Nomad
is an album that can only enhance your appreciation for everything that’s happening around you. And in this day and age, that’s something that should be cherished.