Friday, 20 April 2012

Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action At a Distance


Lotus Plaza is the side project of Deerhunter lead guitarist, Lockett Pundt. His debut solo album was released in 2009, which has some strong material, but failed on grabbing the listener’s ear. He returns after a strong Deerhunter album in Halcyon Digest, and with the ability and belief to create and release an album worth of the 'Lotus Plaza' name. His guitar style is rather vivid and he plays with repetition in his front pocket. His work in Deerhunter is minimalized by Bradford Cox, both equally outstanding musicians and masters of the modern 'indie' sound. Lockett created the masterful 'Desire Lines', with its heavy barre chord riff and eventual explosion of shoegaze driven effects to create a three minute ending of noise. He hasn’t carried the Deerhunter name into his solo work, he's only picked out himself and placed gives the listener an album of his material, showing what he can do.

The short opener 'Untitled' has all the ingredients from the previous album with an extra twinge of ambience added. It's not long before the second track and most thrilling track, 'Strangers' enters. The drum count in is met with several layers of electric guitar and a very heavy bass riff. This is what was expected, and this is the sound that defines Lotus Plaza's second album. Lockett rarely sings with Deerhunter, but when he does, a new light and a fresh feel is delivered. He sings like he always has done, sounding present and confident with great ability to hit the high notes whilst keeping his standard 'verse voice' intact. The back half is an excellent piece of music with several more layered riffs which ultimately close the track off, introducing the listener to Spooky Action At a Distance.

An achingly beautiful guitar riff impresses me on the following track 'Out of Touch'. The vocals are a treacherous standout and Lockett adds great reverb to his layered vocals. The drum pattern is very sporty and has one of those moving rhythms rock music bolsters from time to time. It's ultimately a running track that should be on your IPod 'Gym Playlist'. The synth riff on the left speaker is unusual as this album is a consistent simple rock album, nothing fancy, just rock. It's the delayed guitar and reverb that may make something dreamy, but this music just doesn’t qualify because of its textures, the lyrical themes and the clear dynamics that rock the sound in several different ways. 'Dusty Rhodes' does add to the rock mood with its distortion and acoustic guitar riff which naturally fits on this album. The vague breakdowns are superb, as the following vocal delivery by Lockett is incredibly innocent and helpless. He sounds like a 17 year old about to make the biggest decision of his life, it's inspirational.

'White Galactic One' momentarily brings back the Deerhunter days, with the instant heaviness and the punk attitude which broke Deerhunter into the scene in the first place. Lockett gives his vocal in-between a much distorted guitar riff, the eventual chorus is uplifting with a very slow vocal delivery, surprising as the track is fast paced. The standout track 'Monoliths' follows. It's the structure and the melody which catches my ear. The electric guitar focuses on the right side is invigorating on the mood. The following verses are incredible, with a guitar solo with some new drumming before erupting into the final half and best musical segment on the album. Lockett sings a catchy tune with the bass raised with the immense amount of noise increasing, "And one of these days, I'll come around."

Monoliths does have a fade out, as you'd expect with a track with that type of structure. The album isn’t quite complete yet, 'Jet Out of the Tundra' enters gracefully. The bass hits like a blunt knife, creating space for the following musical segments of bliss. The acoustic guitar has found its home on this track, with the raised electric guitar slowly entering from behind with the second bass. The drumming finds its place ad Lockett begins to sing. He follows the melody as he should, with a careful elegance. It’s not until the final third where things start to get advanced. The piano begins and the track takes a turn from being a build-up, to a critical peak and end. The noise cannot be resisted as mass amount of guitar layers enter and the track comes to an abrupt stop. 'Eveningness' complies with the 'rules' and delivers the most 'dream pop' segment on the album. The chorus is lowered and the following bass riff is eerie with a special sound that dream pop just has.. This vocal segment closes off the track in repetitive style. It's unaware to the listener however, as the guitars drone on and have many variations, with the delayed twinkly guitar keeping its form throughout the track.

'Remember Our Days' has one of the best vocals on the album with Lockett rising above the instrumental with his vocal. This is also the quietest and vaguest on the album without an abrasive bass drone and the electronic drum beat. Lockett plays to the best of his ability with the enduring guitar layers which inevitably set the standard of the latter half of the track. The melody is phenomenal as the stars are reached and the sound portrayed zones out in a completely different universe compared to the down to earth electronic drum beat. it's a spectacular instrumental that ends with a very solid piano key. 

Lotus Plaza is a project worth looking out for. The vocal styles here are not the best; however have personality among the layers of reverb. Lockett has structure in his instrumentals and has that D.I.Y approach to his own creations. The final track 'Black Buzz' is no exception, being my personal favourite album closer of 2012 so far. The acoustic guitar rings loud with Lockett singing a very eerie vocal hidden behind his effects. The dreamy atmosphere returns and the opening instrumental Untitled is repeated in its finishing form to close off the album where it began, with droning noise. It's a terrific album by the Deerhunter guitarist and he deserves all the credit he will no doubt receive in the coming future. This album is above the expected standard and has its place in 2012 as the top side project, congratulations to Mr Pundt for out doing Mr Cox.
~Eddie

8.3

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