Hearing Aide: Lotus ’86 Revolutions’

From start to finish, it took Lotus 86 days to execute their latest tour that saw sold-out crowds across the United States. To mark the conclusion of a successful run, budding fan base and adding another notch on the touring belt, the post-rock electronic jam band decided to share a live compilation album fresh off the heels of their recent journey. Titled 86 Revolutions, the 14-track release brings listeners through live takes of tracks pulled from the five-piece’s Eat the Light and Build, as well as dug up songs from Lotus’ developing stages as a group.

“We had a new soundboard for this tour, and the multi-track sources sounded great,” said bassist Jesse Miller, who selected each track and mixed the album. “We release all of our shows, but this was an opportunity for me to spend extra time mixing to expose all the layers that build the Lotus sound.” Group improvisation is the name of Lotus’ game and Miller plays a solid hand in highlighting that through the albums construction.

We’re welcomed into 86 Revolutions by percussion on “Debris” as Disc One introduces listeners to six tracks of high-energy jamtronica. The entire album can be found via Bandcamp, where more information is listed on track performance date, artist collaborations and more. Proven to be a solid inaugural track with tantalizing guitar, “Debris” is sure to get you grooving by the time Eat the Light track, “Anti-Gravity” ft. electric soul artist Oriel Poole, kicks in. Performed in Ohio, Poole’s soft vocals and lyrics of “You’re my anti-gravity, hold me so I don’t float away,” pair nicely with the spacey jams that help keep the dance mentality alive. At 7:30, the track’s sound takes a turn as it relies heavily on drums and keys until an ultimate fade out transitions into Nomad’s “Livingston Storm” from the very same gig. Loud cheers from the fans can be heard just before the five minute mark until tempo begins to pick up, slow down and do it all over again before closing out the track.

“Sleep When We are Dead” comes as the first vocal-heavy choice, executed by the band members themselves with breathy vocals, a catchy “Surf Rock” chorus and clean guitar with warbling effects. Lyrics describe grabbing life by the horns, living in the now and of course an allusion to the age old saying “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.” Highlights from the first half of the release come in “Expired Slang,” which hails from the instrumental-heavy group’s outrageous performance at the 930 Club in Washington, DC. Hearing the track that’s never been included on a studio album through the buds of earphones and computer speakers does, in fact, do the song justice–which only makes one wonder how impeccable it sounded in person. The recorded take relinquishes zippy synth/keys and heavy electro-funk to end on a powerful note. Disc one’s closing track treats fans to another round of pleasing vocal harmonies and percussion breakdowns with lyric-heavy Eat the Light’s “When Our Nerves No Longer Twitch.”

The second disc leads with a “Slow Cookin” sandwich, pieced between funky “Neon Tubes” Part 1 and 2 on each end. Recorded during their Aspen, CO gig, Greensfield begins to explore unique time signatures at about a minute and a half into the track. “Slow Cookin’” keeps things rolling with cymbal crashes, drum solos and percussion teases as the sampler and synthy vocals get ample attention. “Neon Tubes” rolls back around, transitioning in with whirling sound effects on the dance heavy song. Guitar harmonies and mastery on “The Opus” instantly draw attention inward for the track that was recently performed for the first time ever at the famed Port Chester Capitol Theatre.

Quite possibly the cleanest sounding tune from the compilation, “The Opus” is another first-time studio album cut. “Rà-Àkõ-St,” originally by Lindstrøm’ and the first cover included on 86 Revolutions, outwardly appeals to the more electronic side of Lotus. The track is played in a triumphant key, as its improvisational volume and speed bounce from high to low and slow to fast. “Blacklight Sunflare” follows, with exploration of diverse sounds and elements, giving a more progressive rock feel to the album. The second and final cover comes as an ode to Talking Heads with a 9-minute “Moon Rocks,” originally off of 1983’s Speaking in Tongues, complete with David Byrne-esque voice inflection and new wave tendencies.

86 Revolutions wraps up with an 11-minute “Umbilical Moonrise” off of 2003’s Germination, sure to send long-time fans into an extreme state of bliss. Appropriately placed as the ultimate tour closer, the track was the first to ever be penned by Lotus, giving a “full circle” feel to their start as musicians and conclusion of a triumphant tour. It’s fitting for a calm and reflective song, giving listeners time to unwind and reflect on the 86 day journey Lotus embarked on and condensed into 14, carefully selected tracks.

Key TracksAnti Gravity, The Opus, Blacklight Sunflare

Disc One

  1. Debris  8:39  
  2. Anti-Gravity feat. Oriel Poole >  10:22
  3. Livingston Storm  13:26
  4. Sleep When We Are Dead  6:12
  5. Expired Slang  10:56
  6. When Our Nerves No Longer Twitch  6:10

Disc Two

  1. Neon Tubes Part I >  6:26
  2. Slow Cookin’ >  7:47
  3. Neon Tubes Part II  4:19
  4. The Opus  9:17
  5. Rà-Àkõ-St  7:20
  6. Blacklight Sunflare  7:52
  7. Moon Rocks  9:01
  8. Umbilical Moonrise  11:40