Since 2011, Texas-Berlin producer Lotic has been sculpting experimental club music from noise swarms, microscopic samples and mutated bass rumbles, making fans of Björk, Ben Frost and more. 2015’s EP Heterocetera and short mixtape Agitations created mutating nightmares from, respectively, Penderecki-esque howls of microtonal noise and revving Transformers grind. However, with the release of their first full-length, Lotic opts for a kinder, gentler chaos.
The most notable change – much like recent albums by fellow pixel-pushers Oneohtrix Point Never and Sophie – is a software upgrade towards more traditional songcraft. First single “Hunted” is the highlight, basically a four-chord political hardcore song if it were slowed to a trap gait, whispered like a secret and played by drum machines and car parts: “Brown skin, masculine frame, head’s a target/Actin’ real feminine, make ’em vomit.” “Solace” finds Lotic crooning “It’s gon’ be OK” over some virtual reality 4AD swirl; “Nerve” is a moody sing-rap detour that’s a cross between modern indie classical and Houston screw; and “Bulletproof” finds them fighting through a glitching, grinding melody with the affirmation “I’m still alive/So I’m gon thrive/I’m a bulletproof nigga.”
These few lyrical glimpses mix the political and the personal for an artist that’s both gender fluid and musically omnivorous. The music is pan-generational collage that recalls everything from the nostalgia zones of Oneohtrix Point Never to the sound shards of Ricardo Villalobos to the rumbling post-dubstep rumble of Flying Lotus to the glitch-out provocations of Kid 606. “Love and Light,” “Fragility” and “Power” a;; resemble the repeating, glistening patterns of a digital Steve Reich or a virtual music box – though they are flecked with electronic precipitation, scrapes or lightning bolts. The 87-second “The Warp and the West” is an electronic noise falling down the stairs; the title track explodes with heavy metal drums battling cartoonish sproings. Vacillating between synthetic noise and vulnerable vocals, Lotic turns dance music textures into abstract expressionism – the results are sometimes protest, sometimes singer-songwriter statement, sometimes sheer dystopia, but usually fascinating.