The Lothars

The following review appeared in the January, 1999 issue of The Wire.

The Lothars

Meet The Lothars


You can kind of see where they're going on this one: memories of psychedelic 60s art rockers Lothar And The Hand People patched into the continuing pop culture trauma which the first Beatles LP inflicted upon the American collective unconscious. Are they trying a little too hard for cute or what?

Hailing from Massachusetts, this ensemble of skilful noise generators, comprising three theremin players and a guitarist, dispel any doubts by the sheer raucous glory of their sound. Maybe not quite what Leon Theremin had in mind when he demonstrated his wonderful new device in the presence of VI Lenin back in the days when a new art for the masses required new instruments, The Lothars conspire to create a monstrous edifice of noise. Ramona Herboldsheimer's purposeful electric strumming just about manages to hold together the joyfully bizarre arrangements of audio squiggles and deep space scrawls which Kris Thompson, Jon Bernhardt and Brendan Quinn produce on their theremins.

The dirty anarchy of these performances is extremely appealing, even though the occasional nod towards sonic cuteness on such tracks as "Cowboys Lament" and "The Cat & The Mean Old Man" tends to weaken the effect. It seems appropriate, however, that Leon Theremin chose America to die in. It's thanks to US bands like The Lothars that the barbaric yawp of his futuristic invention can be still heard echoing all the way from the Soviet Union to the New World and back again.