The Lothars

A bunch of shorter reviews we've received for our debut CD, Meet The Lothars.

Keyboard, May, 1999

This Bostonian experimental group employs three theremin players and a guitarist to create a mesmerizing psychedelic dirge. Unlike some of the novelty Moog records of the '70s, this album is much more a rehearsed collection of compositions than an excuse to extract odd sounds from an interesting piece of technology. The Lothars do an admirable service for the credibility of theremins in modern music by not only breaking new ground as far as how the instrument can sound --- they create animal noises, imitate trumpets and guitars, etc. --- but also making their antennaed boxes an integral part of a piece's melody and harmony on a number of cuts.

Alternative Press, May, 1999

Amateurish theremin-based work has our critic, er, squealing with delight

It's backward into the future once again. The Lothars feature three theremins and one guitar, and produce as many weird and wonderful ideas that can be squeezed, whooped, whistled and screamed from these hip retro-electro antiques.

Leon Theremin's invention, lest we forget, was used in countless low-budget horror and sci-fi movies to simulate both otherworldliness and incipient strangeness. But its genesis was as a respectable orchestral instrument, albeit a protosynthesized sound source that was taken about as seriously as glass harmonicas.

The debut album by Boston-area quartet the Lothars is alternatively fascinating and boring. The band's gleeful experimentation with the theremin's ability to produce sounds as diverse as squeaks and ominous howls occasionally passes into self-indulgence. They're having a great time, but the listener has much less patience for unfocused, highly melodramatic moods. Their technical competence is also measured, with lapses and flats occasionally appearing.

But Meet The Lothars overcomes these shortcomings with its innocence, as well as with the same exuberance that produces mistakes. The sounds are often amazing, and it is greatly appreciated that the band are aiming for, and sometimes even attaining, real drama. Their Pink Floyd-meets-goth sensibility achieves a vision of the future that could only have come from the past.
Stephen M. H. Braitman

Magnet, Jan./Feb., 1999

Massachusetts sound freaks the Lothars perform their brand of experimental audio research on Meet The Lothars (Camera Obscura), and the simultaneous wails of three theremins, plus guitar and bass, is suitably out of this world.
---Fred Mills

Popwatch, Issue No. 10, Early 1999

it had to happen... like grunge had to happen, the cocktail nation, grrrl power, and similar music fads, however none of the aforementioned trends required the discipline of reining a force as unpredictable as the theremin. Assembled like an "Our Gang" neighborhood event, The Lothars birthed their three theremins and one guitar project at a backyard barbeque and never looked back, even when teased, tormented, or legal threats were made about their name from The Hand People. Meet the Lothars is a solid introduction to this ensemble and features interesting high, swirling vibrato theremin "notes" and steady, rhythmic guitar strumming. The band is "serious" most of the time, but they also have a good prankster sense of humor, as on "The Cat and the Mean Old Man" or "Cowboys Lament." Their CD art is fun too. You won't be humming any of these tunes come tomorrow, but it's still worth checking out. As with the lounge movement or Beat Happening-inspired DIY, I don't expect we'll have to suffer the same backlash/bandwagoneering with theremin orchestras popping up everywhere ... but I'm not willing to bet on it either.

Stylus (University of Winnipeg Students' Association), December, 1998

One guitar and three theremins! Yes, finally theremin hardcore has arrived! The theremin, aka the instrument that makes those weird noises in old sci-fi films, is displayed throughout all nine songs on this debut disc by New England's the Lothars. It is about time that the theremin is the central instrument in music, instead of its prior watered-down use by theremin poseurs like Brian Wilson, Jon Spencer, and Frank Black.

Meet The Lothars opener, "Dust Mah Space Broom," is a slow peculiar tune, with all three theremins patrolling the sound field before the oncoming barrage. The third track, "Trem, Also" is the first psychedelic shot, which feels like a dream slowing dissolving into other dreams. By the fifth song "Charo UK," the theremins are nearly overheating past the color white, giving a certain mystique of electricity that seduces the listener into an electrocuted state. Very good stuff. The last track "Beat Hive," with all instruments harmoniously falling away from each other, sounds like Friday evening rush hour heard from slightly away in a placid street block.

One note I have to mention is that within the album's cover sleeve there is an address that can be used to send for merchandise like clay theremin figurines! With the Lothars gracing the theremin sound, I can't wait for the Glenn Branca of theremins to show up!
--- RV

Impact Press, #18, December/January '98-99

This is an instrumental CD I'm happy to have! The music is composed by theremins and guitar and bass. It has an eerie texture to it. I don't think it's unfair to compare it to the sonics of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." A must for experimental music/noise fans.

Cosmik Debris, #56, February, 2000

I knew my painstaking search would eventually bear fruit. Anyone falling under the spell will surely understand: once you've heard the sci-fi stylings of the strangest musical contraption ever to grace a Beach Boys hit ("Good Vibrations" if you must know), you will stop at nothing to hear more evidence of the ghostly sounds of the theremin. This eventually leads to the greatest (by sheer numbers) theremin band of all time: The Lothars. You will of course recall from the sixties Lothar and the Hand People, who were one of the first champions of the instrument. In fitting tribute The Lothars picked up their double antenna gizmos, to the point where the term "experts in the field" doesn't seem out of place. One listen reveals that this ain't no Clara Rockmore record (classical stuff that sounds much like a violin concerto), but deft concoction that mixes psychedelic wigouts with subtle, galloping instrumentals. Three theremins and one guitar, the lone instrument here that is actually touched when played, makes for a trippy soundscape indeed. Settle in for a spell and the magic will take hold. I urge you to "Meet The Lothars" for The Lothars are mad, and gawd love 'em for it.
© 2000 - John Sekerka

The Olympian (Olympia, Washington rag)

A more unusual lineup is unlikely to be found outside of a police station, as the Lothars consist of one guitarist and three Theremin players, You might remember the Theremin from the Beach Boys' song "Good Vibrations" and numerous sci-fi films from the 1950s. Real out-there sounds!

Unfortunately, this idea is better in your imagination than what these cats actually come across with. There's too much screaming ambulance sounds, distortion boxes and no discernable melody. I can't help but think that they didn't really use the full quirky potential of the instrument, but instead just fooled around. The resulting sounds easily could have been made by keyboards and synthesizers.

What also disappoints is that the usually excellent Australian Camera Obscura label put this out. It may mark a new and noisier direction for the label as its other new release is by the jazzskronk band Rake.

In the end, this CD is a nice aberration if you just listen to one track. I'll be hanging onto it just in case I change my mind, but an extended listening shows just how limited the band's ideas are. Hopefully Camera Obscura will get back to releasing great modern psychedelia and forgo the noisemeisters.

Rocktober, Number 23, Fall 1998

Haunted House soundtrack at the art school carnival!

Cape Cod Times, Sunday, December 6, 1998

*** (3 Stars)
The theremin is played by moving your hands through the machine's electromagnetic field (to learn more, check out the excellent documentary film "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey"). The resulting howls and trills are eerie enough to have been used in countless horror films. The Lothars, using three theremins and a guitar, have created one of the weirdest electronic albums, a disc bizarre enough to be shelved next to a sound-effects sampler.

The Fritz, January, 1999

some of you may not remember lothar and the hand people or their use of the theremin, but the lothars are a clever nod in that direction. the lothars, however, go much farther than the hand people ever imagined, possibly farther than even leon theremin (inventor of the theremin) ever dreamed. this band is unlike any other in that there are actually three thereminists and one guitarist. talk about unconventional. there is some bass working around in there on a few songs and a drum finds its way in once in a while, but whenever another instrument is added, it is almost always joined by yet another theremin. needless to say, if you donít like the shrill electronic violin-like sci-fi swirling of the theremin, you will not like this record, but for those of us who thrive on unconventional music (or just happen to like the instrument), this cd was desperately needed.
--ó aaron