Review Summary: Wes Borland goes really experimental.
The release of The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall
a few months ago found mastermind Wes Borland at a really creative phase in his life, crafting a 65 minute collage of diverse tunes, merging several influences into a weirdly insular yet cohesive effort.
Dropping another record after only six months, Lotus Island
is a door for Borland to experiment at his will. Sitting behind the mixing desk by himself for the first time, he took 100% control over the output and doing a great job. The whole concept does reflect the title, because from the first second the listener is drawn into this ethereal world. There are few proper songs, Borland focusing this time more on the ambient side of Black Light Burns.
Wes has always had a knack for abstract art, as evidenced to a certain extent in his music and more on his paintings (the band's album covers, but also some of Limp Bizkit's ones) and Lotus Island
is mostly a chance for his odd ideas to flourish. Heard alongside Alejandro Jodorowsky's controversial movie The Holy Mountain
, like he advised the listeners to do so, all the brooding instrumental pieces do make more sense as they follow the plot line, switching moods from scene to scene. For example (without spoiling anything), 'The Dancers' fits the scene where the people are waltzing to the mariachi band, or 'The Master' marks the scene where the alchemist takes the thief under his wing and teaches him valuable lessons.
's ambient side is somewhat a darker version of the instrumentals found on the band's 2008's Cover Your Heart And The Anvil Pants Odyssey
. While those sketches were lighter and more conventional in sound, the tunes here are much more somber. Ranging from barely audible synth lines ('The Thief'), to evil, 80s influenced industrial soundscapes that sound almost Soviet-like ('The City'), the record is quite unpredictable at times, like the false start to 'The Hate Of My Life' in the middle of 'The Thief' for only a few measures, and the 'The Master''s coda that features some effect-laden vocals that sound like an imitation of kids' voices. Meanwhile, 'The Dancers' is comprised of more exotic instrumentation, such as a bouzouki, first found last year on 'The Colour Escapes' or 'The Opportunists' that feels like an alternate version of the title track on The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall
. At some point, it borrows the bass line and the delayed guitars are featured prominently throughout. Still, it's one of the most accomplished instrumentals here and makes for a great listen.
Leaving the instrumentals aside, there are a few tracks here that have a proper structure and vocals. However, these are more bass oriented and feature various synth lines or eerie guitars, as opposed to the usual affairs. Even so, they are solid tracks that fit well the album's mood and make it more interesting and varied. 'The Hate Of My Life' sounds like a pop song gone wrong. There are various "ooohs" and background vocals accompanying him over a heavily distorted bass and a beat that is reminiscent of 'The Girl In Black' off The Moment...
. The song 'It Rapes All In It's Path' finally sees the light of day on this record, albeit in a remixed version. First used on the Underworld: Awakening
soundtrack, the song is a mid-tempo, straight forward slow burner, that features some cool vocals. There is also a nice, prolonged, rather dissonant outro consisting of delayed guitars and an industrial sound loop. There are various indicators that identify Lotus Island
's starting point as the same bulk of melodies as The Moment...
, but the album switches direction and expands on a different, more free form route, in the end feeling like a strange half-counterpart to the aforementioned effort.
Even if it's an interesting, creativity exercise, Lotus Island
doesn't have the consistency and power to stand out as high as the main records, much like Cover Your Heart
's case. Still, it has its own niche in the band's catalog, as it portrays an esoteric side of Black Light Burns. Also, the experimental nature makes it harder to digest for newcomers and some fans alike. Still, giving credit where is due, Lotus Island
expands the band's output into an interesting direction that combined with the usual, harder stuff, would make for a really strong successor.