Lotus Plaza Lotus PlazaSpooky Action At A Distance
With a frontman like Bradford Cox, it's hard not to think that the roles of the other components of Deerhunter are little more than testimonial. Lockett Pundt, one of the earliest band members, tried to set himself apart three years ago with his solo debut, “The Floodlight Collective” ( Kranky, 2009), using the alias Lotus Plaza. Though interesting, the material he offered couldn't hold even the smallest candle to the main band. Moreover, it seemed like Cox's influence was still too present, what with him playing the drums on one of the track and all. But we don't want to scorn the guitarist's talent, as the man is responsible for monuments like “Agoraphobia” and, more recently, “Desire Lines”. Also, a year ago the fabulous “60 Cycle Hum” was released, the first piece co-written by vocalist and bassist Josh Fauver, which means Deerhunter is much more than just Cox. And if that weren't enough, here's “Spooky Action At A Distance”, with Pundt giving the finger to that famous “third time's the charm” and coming up with a second album that is on par with an album like, for instance, “Halcyon Digest” ( 4AD, 2010).
Unlike “The Floodlight Collective”, which in a way could be compared to the demos Atlas Sound used to share with the world, compiled in the “Bedroom Databank” series, this new record explores the most accessible, pop side of Pundt. Proof of that is one of the best tracks of the lot, the very Kraut-rocky “Strangers”, something like the twin sister of “Desire Lines”, with a jangling pop guitar and some martial drum rolls. The best comes at the end, when Lotus Plaza gradually starts to slow the tracks down. “White Galactic One” is a warm, euphoric piece, in the vein of the least oppressive side of Deerhunter, on which he goes all out in the use of his favourite instrument. Here, he saturates the track with feedback, but on other parts of the album he uses different effects. These are songs confirming that the guitarist's song-writing skills have grown explosively in recent months.
A curious piece is “Out Of Touch”, as Lockett Pundt uses some vocal resources (such as those “Oh-oh-oh’s”) that are very reminiscent of Bradford Cox, and which make one hope for future use on Deerhunter songs. All in all, Lotus Plaza has his own voice, often lethargic, which makes the so Cox-like dramatic and affected moments of minor importance. Like the guitar, the voice plays a big role in this effort. Though it's hard to make out what he's singing exactly, there are some great vocals here, like on the dreamy “Eveningness”, and the beautifully melodic “Monoliths”, the complete opposite of the most disperse points of “The Floodlight Collective”.
Returning to “ Out Of Touch”, with its elliptic unfolding, it's also attractive because it's more visceral than the rest. Moreover, it's a sharp contrast with the following song, “Dusty Rhodes”, a laid-back acoustic track. It's a varied album, offering all the registers that we can also find with Pundt's main band. There's psychedelic pop ( “Jet Out Of The Tundra”), motorik rhythms ( “Remember Our Days”, maybe the only “but” on the record), and some ambient drone ( “Untitled” and the final moments of “Black Buzz”, very meditative in its first four minutes, and produced superbly in the vein of Kurt Vile). Without too many embellishments, with plenty of talent and much subtlety, Lotus Plaza, like Atlas Sound, makes us forget about Deerhunter for 45 minutes.