Lotus is one of my all time favorite bands, and consistently put out terrific albums. They’re in the group of bands that are great to listen to and also live. Last year, the departure of long-time lead guitarist, Mike Rempel, gave fans pause for concern. However, the quick pick up and assimilation of Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu has put that all to rest. I’ve seen Lotus live three times now with Tim and he is a powerful shredder and is authentic to the lifeblood of Lotus.
Bloom and Recede is the first album released with Tim and it’s a winner. It’s a throwback to an era of thematic albums as evidenced by the album title matching the opening and closing tunes. You definitely should listen to this end to end to capture the full impact. For me, it feels like a combo of the Norwegian experimental jazz band, Jaga Jazzist, with the German techno-band Meute, even though the instrumentation is quite different. Indeed, Jesse indicates as much on the Bandcamp writeup. In any case, it’s a new chapter in the book of Lotus, very interesting, beautiful and lush and worth repeated spins. Here’s my track-by-track coverage.
Track By Track
Desert Blooms clearly ties back into the album title and establishes the story arc of the album. It starts with a heavy synth section that’s aurally orchestra-like and very reminiscent of recent Jaga Jazzist albums. It accelerates with bouncy synth and the more lush wall of sound as the base layer. It gives a feel of traveling through a fog, both relaxing and booty shaking at the same time. The break is heavy bass and drum/percussion – a classic Lotus danceable techno vibe. It’s here in the last third of the track that the first guitar jam comes with a lot of space between the techno beat. Naturally, it picks up to match the overall tempo and ends with a sustained twang. The main theme restart and the closeout reverts back to the drum and bass.
Pluck was a song I first heard live at Sweetwater 420 Fest in Atlanta and the video release of the single had just come out the prior week. The tune has a super dope opening bass keys line with drums to follow and is another journey though time and space. This tune could be played in any club in the world and pack the dance floor. Luke and Jesse Miller on the dual keys and synthis super trippy. New Lotus super hero, Tim Palmieri, rips another great guitar solo midway through and the effects in the video and his smile of satisfaction show the power of the groove. For this one, I feel the same vibe as the brass-techno group Meute out of Germany, despite the fact that there’s no horns here — it must be that heavy kick drum from Mike Greenfield and fine percussion from Chuck Morris. The little bright teaser closing is a bonus.
Tar Pits is the second single from the album and starts with a catchy bass keys riff quickly joined by drums / percussion and synth. An interesting aspect of this tune and others on the album is Tim’s guitar playing tuned to blend in as if it were as a third synth. Luke plays most of the synth lead here with an eerie/trippy vibe. Jesse’s base keys augment the percussion. Tim’s solo again has a sustained and bent note texture. By this tune, you definitely will feel the overall album theme diverges from most recent Lotus albums.
Pacific Glow starts with a regal synth joined by a pop synth overlay. Tim takes the lead on guitar throughout this one and the band cruises to an early bridge with Luke on a brief synth segue back to the head. The studio video is slick with the glowing background and the show-worthy lights. The tune is exemplary Lotus danceable and I’m sure gives Tim ample room to stretch on this during live shows. The tune ends with an extended synth fade by Luke and a fun shot in the video with Mike holding an orb or disco ball and them all gathered on a couch.
Time Dilates is classic Lotus with a heavy Jesse bass with big kick drum grooves from Mike. It’s great to see another studio video up. Tim leads the theme to the bridge which is stunningly beautiful. Tim’s solo midway feels like suspended animation – it’s great when the split vid shows two of him jamming. Like all Lotus tunes, the arrangements are super interesting, always with a strong theme but coupled with a massive jam as well. That’s one of the elements that make them so great to see live and I was lucky to catch this one performed at Sacred Rose Festival in Chicago the day after the album release.
Entangled has a repeat piano intro with a synth parallel line. Again, Tim is the melodic voice on guitar. There are so many layers to this tune it can stop you from whatever you’re doing to focus. It’s eminently danceable as the band has often characterized their music. The pace picks up toward the end and the crew cruises with the theme right to the outro.
Transfixed has the Miller brothers doubled up on synth with Luke playing the sustained dreamy part and Jesse playing the punchy pop section. As usual, Mike and Chuck are perfect timekeepers and are unquestionably one of the best percussion teams in the business. The bridge has some heavy bass keys from Jesse before the trip back to the head. The tune is so intricately beautiful with a full wall of sound effect. I’d be remiss to say how cool Chuck is in this video and always live – he looks like he’s having fun cruising with the team and he’s got so many tools to work with in his basket. The close with the heavy bass tones and percussion (including Luke) is a cool switchup.
Golden Ratio is possibly my favorite on the album. It starts with a seemingly simple and slow piano chord section joined by guitar and percussion in a very chill progression. Over time, I’ve always loved when Lotus, mainly Chuck, plays chimes and vibe like sounds and they figure large here. Without going into detail, the ‘Golden Ratio’ is a mathematical figure studied in real life and in nature for hundreds of years and this tune is timeless. Tim has a George Benson-esque slow tempo solo towards the end that’s contemporized with the rest of the band.
Desert Recedes is of course the bookend to the opener and starts with good old fashioned needle in the groove sound giving way to another majestic piano and synth lush build-up and then a quick recession to just piano for the close-out, a beautiful and fitting end to the album.