Lotus: An Immodest Review

Lotus: An Immodest Review

The Definition

Lotus: a plant believed to be a jujube or elm, referred to in Greek legend as yielding a fruit that induced a state of dreamy and contented forgetfulness in those who ate it. Lotus also refers to a British sports car company known for its sleek and speedy style. What these definitions forget is the five piece instrumental band also affectionately adhering to the same moniker. With such a name to live up to, who exactly does this band believe itself to be? As you must have guessed this was a rhetorical question, so I’ll go ahead and answer it for you. This band is an inspired group of individuals solely devoted to a single purpose: the business of getting down.

The Sound
Lotus, (which consists of: Chuck Morris, Mike Rempel, Jesse Miller, Steve Clemens, and Luke Miller) is a band with roots firmly grounded in almost every genre imaginable. If cornered into an explanation without a sample of what I was talking about, I might describe Lotus as lounge-electrojam/funkadelic/trip-hop/fusion… with jazz influences. But that’s only if you cornered me on it. To be less superfluous with my answer, I might go on to describe how they are also at the vanguard of an underground movement widely known as Jam-tronica. This style combines elements of classic jam bands such as Phish and Grateful Dead with an electronic house music blend represented by a varietyof techno greats such as Paul Oakenfold or Tiesto.

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The members make excellent use of the usual ingredients in a five piece: guitars (lead and rhythm), drums (electronic and acoustic), bass, and keyboards. However, in addition to the usual suspects, Lotus is known to use multiple samples, synth, and other percussion elements in their act. Perhaps another definition to the term Lotus is in order; one that makes the word synonymous with diversity.
To be even more specific, I’d like to put my personal two cents in on the band’s seventh effort, released in 2008 on Sci-Fidelity records, entitled: Hammerstrike. An aptly named album I assure you. The music is an elegant assault on the senses, designed in every way to trip out the psychedelically enhanced denizen in the 18-24 year old demographic. The album definitely caters to a younger audience. This fact being evident from song titles such as Age of Inexperience and The Invincibility of Youth. Listening to this album is like inviting Lotus into your living room for an interview. Their unique sound has a rare way of inserting itself into your lifestyle and relating to you without uttering more than a few soft words.
In Age of Inexperience, there is a poignantly recurring phrase in a haunting choral falsetto: “Like stoned teenagers we’re free.” An eerily repeated statement that echoes into the inner self, reaffirming the desire for and the freedom of irresponsibility and, at the risk of sounding redundant, inexperience. And amid this softly spoken temptation to the follies of youth, the listener finds himself in the middle of a three pronged sonic onslaught. With a pentonically relentless guitar riff, drums that belong in a Crystal Method or Aphex Twin song, and otherworldly electronic samples, Inexperience betrays its namesake by imparting an audio ordeal that leaves a definite impression upon its listener.

Next up, I’d like to describe my favorite song on the album, the aforementioned: The Invincibility of Youth. This song is a lyric-less pep-talk for the generations of tomorrow. It opens with a soaring guitar riff with a trace of influence best described as Pink Floydian. The riff resounds as a call to arms, virtually bleeding that comfortably numb feeling from a prodigious PRS hollow body spruce. A slow, rising, driving throb of ambition melded into percussion wells up from the stereo. This instantly causes a drastic revaluation of life goals and priorities. Once you have properly aligned yourself for the 21st century’s looming challenges, and appropriately understanding them, you begin to question your convictions, the melody reaches its deafening climax. Your spine snaps into steel-hardened place as the rhythms push you ever forward into an unknown destiny with overwhelming confidence in your ability to transcend any challenge. This song is only two and a half minutes long, as fleeting as the subject it describes, but within those scant minutes a profound emotional trigger is pulled and an explosive bullet of energy and joy runs rampant through the eardrums. Or at least that’s what happened to me when I listened to it.

The Experience

The Lotus experience culminates nearly all year round at their spectacular live performances. A constantly touring-de-force keeps a funk-hungry populace consistently jonezing on crunchy jams. Tickets are usually, an extremely affordable, fifteen dollars at the door. The show is completely unbeatable for the price, and for the spectacle. If you’d like to join me there, I’ll be in the front row, eyes wide with the wonder of possibility and the potential of infinity.