Lotus Invite You for a ‘Free Swim’
Last month, Lotus unveiled the first single from their upcoming Free Swim album: “Catacombs.” At the beginning ofAugust, out came “Bjorn Gets a Haircut.” Now, at last we finally have all ten tracks from this dynamite new entry from Lotus, their tenth studio album.
Written and produced by the group’s Jesse and Luke Miller and recorded earlier this year at Spice House Sound in Philadelphia, Free Swim marks the follow-up to Lotus’s 2018 audio and video album experience Frames Per Second. Free Swim follows in the footsteps of the band’s impressive and eclectic career, an instrumental mix of funk, disco, jazz and psychedelia, The chorus on title track “Free Swim,” “whose groove is built on a galloping piano riff and a syncopated guitar melody, is full of summer brightness with the guitar and synth repeating against a bass line that bounces like bare feet on a hot pavement.”
Jesse Miller (bass, modular synth) spoke about the album’s title:
Luke named the track “Free Swim,” and I thought it also made a great album name. Free swim can be read a couple of different ways, but I think both can apply to Lotus’s music. The first brings me back to childhood when my mom would drive myself and four brothers to the public pool. The free swim time was pure, unrestrained joy as we soared off the diving boards and burned off excess energy swimming for hours in the summers. The second reading is becoming free while swimming. I picture the feeling of weightlessness in open water in some beautiful, remote location. When we write for Lotus, we try to use the energy of a live show to guide our arrangements. I always hope it can take people to a place that feels joyous, energized and free.”
Lotus are: Mike Greenfield, drums; Jesse Miller, bass, sampler; Luke Miller, guitar, keyboards; Chuck Morris, percussion; and Mike Rempel, guitar.
That bass! DAMN! “Catacombs” is as good a first look at Lotus as you can get: a dance party of a song, bouncy, joyous, jazzy, with the super-clean guitar lines, propulsive percussion, and infectious grooves for which they are deservedly known and loved.
First and foremost — in the very best way possible — this album is a dance party. Just try keeping your feet still and your head from bobbing!
“Turtlehead” slows the pace a bit, then charges up and gets bouncy with propulsive synths. The title track, “Free Swim,” unfolds with Greenfield’s drums, then space synths. Luke Miller’s gorgeous piano work yields to some great distorted guitar. And Jesse Miller on bass, Greenfield, and Morris bless every track with their superlative rhythms.
Electric piano and guitar introduce “Sepia Rainbow,” a beautiful soul ballad. Organ accents punctuate the song. This is simply gorgeous. The funk rolls out with “One-Eyed Jones,” which features a superb horn arrangement. The song is lush. The synth soars during the chorus, and guitar and electric piano carry the melody. Jesse Miller’s bass is spot on.
Luke Miller calls “Bjorn Gets A Haircut” “a head-bopping cosmic disco tune. It takes cues from the Nordic disco playbooks of producers like Todd Terje and Lindstrom. The main hook is a Mellotron vocal ‘Oh’ patch leading into a chorus of slick chromatic chord changes on the piano. The guitar takes over in the middle for an improvisatory free ride.” We agree!
“Straight Blade” is another great uptempo rocker, synths opening the track. The guitar work varies from those clean lines to some nicely distorted sounds. The groove is irrepressible, unrestrained, like the entire album. The tempo slows down a little for “Earl of Grey,” bell-like synths stating the theme. Fans of Culture Beat will love this one.
“Snake Island” has a Latin feel to it, guitar and bass out front first. The electric piano sounds so good here with that echo effect. Greenfield and Morris make this happen, and the guitar solo is outstanding. The electric piano is ethereal. Fabulous groove. Finally, we get to “Land of the Lush.” Dancing synths announce themselves first, followed by percussion and deep piano chords before guitar joins the chorus. The intensity builds through the tune, guitar swirling with the synths. Oh, and that rhythm section!
You really ought to go for a Free Swim!
Did you score tickets to see Lotus September 4 at the Live-In Drive-In at Citizens Bank Park?