Lotus Plaza – The Floodlight Collective

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Lotus Plaza – The Floodlight Collective (Kranky Records; March 23rd, 2009)

Lotus Plaza is Lockett Pundt‘s side-project- after recently seeing Deerhunter, it’s safe to assume he’s the sober yin to Bradford & Company‘s raging yang. As the other members of his day job’s outfit leapt and flayed about the stage, he played it cool; more often than not his back was to the audience. And if that’s any indicator of how aloof and reserved he can be, let The Floodlight Collective serve as his laid-back offering.

It’s a study in dense atmospherics and ambient soundscapes; filtered vocals making him sound a million miles away. Stylistically speaking, it’s much closer to his band-mate’s side project Atlas Sound– the way things blend together, the fade-ins (as well as fade-outs), a washed-out echo here or there, reverb and delay acting as an instrument in and of themselves, staccato guitar strums enveloping around mesmerizing synths, softly delivered vocals; it’s a cacophony of indifference and reservation- yet so interesting and inviting.

Into the album now- Red Oak Way starts us down Lockett‘s tunnel; he re-visits that mid-80s Jesus & Mary Chain drone-meets-jangle guitar pop with a shiny guitar line over top. The vocals on the following song, Quicksand, mesh perfectly into the denseness, give Xanax to Motown session musicians and this would be as close to the resulting track as that combination would allow. Then there’s the passage piece These Years with its wind-chime effects, acting as a segue into the next part of the record.

The album really gets into its mission statement with the next four songs: shoe-gazer anthem Different Mirrors (with Deerhunter‘s Cox on drums); churning the guitars and vocals through rotorized Leslie speakers no doubt, there’s the lovely “aah-ahh-ahh-ahhs” before dying out. Whiteout and What Grows? expand upon Pundt‘s pursuit of the elusive unification of 1950s vocal harmonies, 1960s Madison Avenue advertsing pop and mid-80s British post-punk; he does so with excellent results. Sunday Night has some programmed synth work that plays throughout the course of the song; (it was only mildly annoying because it sounds like my ringtone so I was constantly checking my phone) as well as the programmed drum clicks on the seven-and-a-half minute Antoine, a track that gets deep into rich, textural tones that ebb and flow into and out of the mix; I can’t tell which sounds are coming and which are going. Then the bass picks up, as well as the drums (at around 4:40) and the song morphs into an ambient dance track of sorts, there’s also a barely-audible piano in there somewhere.

The title track acts as an idiosyncratic homage to M83; genuflecting in Anthony Gonzalez‘ general direction with an elegiac ode to pure, slowly building ambiance seen all over his (accidental?) mentor’s debut album. The albums closes out on the more upbeat A Threaded Needle, the vocals are still low in the mix but more audible than the majority of the album. The albums ends on a harrowing helicopter-like sound, but gently fades into nothingness.

If I can remember back to my review of last year’s Atlas Sound record, I think I said Cold As Ice was my favorite track from that album; saying it was transcendent and sublime- I think because Pundt played guitar on that track (I recently discovered this fact reading another review of The Floodlight Collective), making it more like a Deerhunter track, therefore making it more amazing, therefore making this record transcendent, sublime and amazing…

…and in hindsight; that was probably the connection I was trying to make.

Tracklisting:

  1. Red Oak Way
  2. Quicksand
  3. These Years
  4. Different Mirrors
  5. Whiteout
  6. What Grows?
  7. Sunday Night
  8. Antoine
  9. The Floodlight Collective
  10. A Threaded Needle

Lotus Plaza