The Lothars - Oscillate
My Metallic Sonatas
Label: Wobbly Music Format: CD
The Lothars are one of those groups who revel in their references, but fail to fall into the trap of being copyists just for the process' own sake; they use four Theremins, the album sleeve pastiches a Benny Goodman album cover, hints in their name to Sixties Psych group Lothar And The Hand People, their first CD was called Meet The Lothars as a tip of the aerial to The Beatles in their more experimental mode... but enough of the obvious pointers. What counts here is the music, and Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas (which it must be said is one of those titles which alternates from genius to irritant on every other day, and was incidentally originally to have been chosen by email competition, but they couldn't decide on a winner; look for the hidden backmasked near-message!) is certainly jam-packed with some way-out sounds from this Massachussetts quintet.
Constructed over a two-day recording and jam session in December 1999, the instrumantals on this album can sometimes really reach into places no-one else could reach in the same way. The sense of a whole piece recorded in a flow of invention and improvisation is readily apparent; three or four tracks will pass into each other before the counter number is noticed, thanks in part to the hypnotic drones and modal shifts the interplay of violin, guitar and those lovely Theremins invoke. This really could be music from any time in the last, oooh, three thousand years at a rough estimate, or maybe the next millennium or two for that matter. Changes rise and fall, the electronics sometimessound like the human voice, sometimes like bleeps and sliding pitches of pure electricity, samples drift up from the depths in a cloudy drift which lulls then speaks in subtleties of tone and timbre of far away places in the subconscious.
Oscillate My Metallic Sonatas might just as easily have been created from the essence of musical déjà vu, if such a thing were possible - and maybe it is after all, because The Lothars have done just that, brought time to a halt or into a phased loop, however each listen might make it seem in the circumstances. An eternal return on waves of one of the strangest (and perhaps also most abused as kitsch signifier, but not here) musical instuments ever devised, this album throbs as much as glides, and hardly once enters those Skiffy soundtrack territories too easily associated with the Theremin. The CD could quite happily sit on repeat play for a week, and probably has done, looping back and forth until something approaching Zen calm and a liquid hallucinatory state is acheived in equilibrium. Far out; really.
-Antron S. Meister-