Saturday 8 May 2010

Six Degrees of Deerhunter #1 - Lotus Plaza

Thursday night at Heaven the SM crew were witness to another electrifying set by Deerhunter. Headed by the ever affable music geek genius that is Bradford Cox, the band sonically swirled, shimmied and shellacked their way into everyone’s hearts. You can tell from Paul’s post this week that he is a Deerhunter tragic – well, after last night, so am I. (There will be a full gig review in the coming days).

So I thought Id hark back to February when I did a little experiment, connecting six bands vicariously through the amazingness that is Sonic Youth, one half of our blog moniker’s genesis. Six posts were barely enough, but it showed what amazing music Thurston and co. have their interests in. So this week Im doing one in dedication to the incendiary act that is Deerhunter.

First up? Rather than going for something more obvious, such as Cox’s solo gear as Atlas Sound, I wanted to showcase Lotus Plaza, guitarist Lockett Pundt’s “other” band (as mentioned fleetingly by Paul on Wednesday). Lotus Plaza’s only album to date, 2009’s The Floodlight Collective, got its title from the first band Pundt and longtime friend Cox were in. It got mixed reviews when it came out, but on further listens a number of things become apparent.

First of all, Deerhunter’s sound has Pundt’s fingerprints firmly smeared all over it; the shimmering wash of elevated shoegaze that has become emblematic for the band is nowhere to see on their first album Turn It Up Faggot, an album that clearly wore its heart on its sleeve (it was dedicated to original band member Justin Bosworth, who died in a skateboarding accident in 2004), was full of spark, angles and anger, and a good album in its own right – yet vastly different from everything that came next, which coincided with Pundt’s joining the group.

Secondly, with the current 12 months being dominated by lo-fi/no-fi recordings, scuzzed out jammers and Spector-influenced garage rock-slash-pop-slash-surf-slash-whatever bands, Lotus Plaza’s bedroom meanderings seems ripe for the plucking. Add that to the shoegaze slant that is permeating many new bands, is adding further layers to already existing and well established bands, and is a fresh breath of air in genre stalwarts (My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Slowdive), then the slating some critics angled at Lotus Plaza just comes off as pretentious, bitter, fucktard arseholery.

But before I get all emotionally involved, I will say that The Floodlight Collective does suffer from its occasional similarities to its big brother, and there is a fluctuation between introversion and bombast, confidence and apprehension that halts the album from being something great. Nevertheless, it is very interesting listening, and does a nice ring-a-ring-a-rosie with Atlas Sounds’ Logos. Check it out.

NB - I think this is a highly underrated album, and I also believe it equals Logos as a highly successful step outside of Deerhunter's shadow - only Cox's name and big-name collaborators have allowed for Logos to get out in the ether more. There...Ive said it.

Lotus Plaza - A Threaded Needle

Lotus Plaza - Whiteout

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