The Lothars

From the December 19, 2004 edition of the Boston Herald.

Lothars get max out of theremins

By Linda Laban

It was rumored to be a holiday show and two members of the band did wear Santa hats.

However, there was no discernible "Jingle Bells" when post-rock theremin troupe the Lothars played the Abbey Lounge on Friday night.

Formed circa '97, some 70-odd years after Leon Theremin invented his futuristic antennaed musical instrument, and comprising a revolving but regular line-up that can number as many as four thereminists, as well as a hammer dulcimer player, the Abbey performance featured a stripped-down trio of Jon Bernhardt and Kris Thompson on theremins, and flutist Dean Stiglitz, who also manned his own bank of electronic tricks.

Even in this trim setting, the Lothars proved majestic, as Bernhardt, who DJs on MIT's radio station WMBR, mostly pulled out repetitive rhythmic motifs, while Thompson coaxed big swirly washes from his machine, creating a continuous stream of, presumably, improvised music.

Equally sonically cool and grand were Stiglitz's playing and sound manipulation.

Forget "The Day the Earth Stood Still," or any other warbly spooky vibrato that the theremin is usually associated with, the Lothars work in electronic/rock territory more than as Ed Wood soundtrack curiosity.

The steely hand movements that drove sound from the theremins were sometimes smooth and barely perceptible, or weird and twitchy, and occasionally wider and sweeping, as the trio blended sounds into dense dramatic microcosmic symphonies with pulsing squiggly riffs; mesmerizing nauseous psychedelic epics; and, when a drum loop added Big Beat via Bhangra ticks, the kind of headphone-funked music that took off and flew into rave territory.

(The Lothars, at the Abbey Lounge, Somerville, Friday night.)

Copyright © 2004 by the Boston Herald.