And now for something completely different. We’ve written about Lotus Thrones before but never about a recording like “Solaris,” the end of a four-EP cycle based around the seasons, finishing with summer. “I hate summer,” laments sole creator Heath Rave. “I find it oppressive and suffocating, almost cinematic in a horrific way. I’m constantly dying underneath this merciless star on this overheated planet of human virus.”
So what makes “Solaris” different like I hinted at above? If you’ve listened to the previous three EPs in Rave’s seasonal cycle, as well as last year’s Lovers in Wartime, then you would expect “Solaris” to follow a similar path of downtrodden and dismal post-punk bringing to mind Ian Curtis on May 19, 1980. And you would be wrong for “Solaris,” while still dismal and downtrodden, stays pretty far away from post-punk or even anything rooted in rock for two of its three tracks (the third being a droning take on Ministry’s “The Fall”). Instead Rave takes us into the world of instrumental experimental noir jazz. He explains “When the EP concept came around, I knew the 4th for summer would be a straight dark jazz concept. Pure atmosphere and improvisation.”
I’m well aware Curtis died on the 18th.
To help him achieve the right balance between droning electronics and the noir jazz that inspired him, Rave again enlisted the help of Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont on saxophone. On “Solaris” Lamont remarks “I felt the honest way to approach these songs was reacting in the moment. Electronic improvisation. Free form, disjointed, angular, spontaneous.”
Today we present the video for “Meridian,” the second song on the EP. Over nine minutes of images showing the oppressive and violent nature of the sun and its caustic effect on the world due to climate change, set to pulsating tones and Lamont’s mournful sax.
This is the kind of recording that shows an artist truly pushing himself into new territories not for the adulation and accolades this kind of move generates critically but for the need to satiate the desire for adventure creatively. I was in Philadelphia a few weeks ago and visited Rave at Havertown Electric Tattoo where he currently works and he gave me a preview listen of the EP. We talked at length about the ideas of going outside of our comfort zones artistically and I asked him what sonically inspired him. He spoke about several modern jazz composers I had no idea about, like Manet, and the jazz work on the final David Bowie record. I had asked for some examples and later he sent me a Spotify playlist he had curated with several examples. I asked for permission to share it for this piece as I felt it might interest some of the more adventurous of Decibel’s readers to dig into a new genre.
“Solaris” completes this era of Lotus Thrones alongside its three other seasonal companions: “Autumnal,” “Hibernal” and “Vernal” and will be released digitally on September 23, a fine way to end the summer.