Review Summary: An EP with a difference.
It seems appropriate at this point to sit back and muse over what was once an amazing side project, a labour of love. Now that we're in 2016 it appears to be a near certainty Black Light Burns is dead and buried; stated several times over the course of this year, Wes doesn't intend to do anything with the project again. And this leaves me thinking on what a massive shame it all is; taking out the fact every piece of material released under the moniker has been near exceptional, it doesn't help the niggling feeling that while the band's final entry is a very interesting beast, it definitely puts a dampener on things when you look at what it truly is.
Allow me to explain: back in 2012 The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall
was released after a busy 5 years away from the project, which was quickly followed by a rather unique offering in the form of Lotus Island
, which dropped just a few months after the band’s second LP. The reason it was released so quickly was because back in 2013 Wes seemed completely focused on Black Light Burns, and was functioning on all cylinders; music was going to come gushing out of the bandcamp in spades, and this was the next phase in the band's career, starting with Lotus Island
: a collection of left over tracks from The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall
. Lotus Island
was originally intended to be an EP to whet the appetite of fans before what was eventually going to be a third record later on. However, Wes finds EP releases to be a little dull and boring, so he came up with the idea of making Lotus Island
a little bit deeper; a concept album of sorts; a soundtrack to the band, if you will.
So with that said, this LP isn’t really a proper album by conventional definition, and the fact the tracks come from the left over archive of their second album it leaves you to question the quality pertained on it. But, fear not, because Wes Borland has always been one for thinking outside of the box, and Lotus Island
turns out to be something that not only stands up as strongly as its predecessors, but offers up something a little more intriguing. Using the 1973 classic Holy Mountain as a vessel to tell its story, Lotus Island
has been mentioned as being Wes’ own interpretation of a soundtrack to the film. This is largely an ambient offering, with 60% of the record being instrumental, moody soundscapes, and the remainder of the record dishing out the The Moment…
B-sides. The way the album is constructed is nothing short of impressive, as it constantly keeps the listener engaged throughout; the transition from moody horns and unsettling ambience to distorted bass and drums on "The Theif" has a rather odd clash and feels like a separate track, but its place doesn’t go in vein, as the latter half of the song is realised as a sampler to “The Hate of My Life” song heard later on in the album. It’s a pleasant surprise and something that ensures you don’t lose any attention to the record. It also has to be said, the tonal clash from the dark, atmospheric instrumental pieces work in making the tracks with vocals all the more enjoyable, as “It’s Good to Be Bad”, “The Hate of My Life”, “It Rapes All in Its Path” and “My Love is Coming for You” all have a catchy, melodic hook coupled with a rather tongue-in-cheek playfulness to them; creating a perfect balance of bleakness and light-hearted fun. Which sums up the band pretty well.
All-in-all, it’s a shame to see the project meeting its demise on a largely ambient soundtrack, but equally, I can’t fault its execution. It’s a damn interesting record, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked by fans of the band. There is still plenty of BLB tropes to be found on here: reverb and delay is still heavily used on his guitar passages, and his vocals, as said, bring all the right melodic hooks to them, and with the way the album is laid out, it just makes those 4 tracks shine that much brighter. But you can’t ignore the LP’s bulk of the album either, the ambient tracks are extremely well put together, and create a really thick and consistent tone throughout. It might not be the third instalment fans were waiting for, but it can’t be argued it’s just as entertaining as any other album out there.