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  • Lotus to make two-night tour stop at the Majestic

    Electronic, instrumental foursome will help Madison fans get on their groove
    by Emily Genco
    October 2011

    Lotus - photo by Tobin Voggesser

    photo by Tobin Voggesser

    Worst case scenario: Arrive at a venue decked out in merch from the headlining band hours before sound check is scheduled to grab prime real-estate in the front row only to watch slack-jawed as the musicians finally appear, play a disinterested set and skip town without so much as an encore.

    Fans of the electronic and instrumental hybrid group Lotus know there’s zero chance this scenario will play out when the foursome hit town to play two consecutive nights at the Majestic Theater Nov. 4 and 5. Instead, Lotus members Mike Greenfield, Jesse Miller, Luke Miller and Mike Rempel like to keep things fresh for audiences when they play live through extended improvisation on already richly composed tunes, bass player and sampler Jesse Miller said

    “Lotus is really energetic [and] pretty dance focused. I think some of the energy comes through on the album, but people are really engaged at our shows,” Miller said. “Every show is different. We mix up the set list. We try to keep it exciting for ourselves and for audience members. If we’re surprising ourselves and the audience is surprised, everyone’s going to be engaged.”

    At a Lotus show, first-time fans cans expect an extensive light display and an atmosphere where grooves aren’t limited to the tunes. This creates a dynamic and often self-reflective experience for listeners, according to Miller.

    “We do a lot of uptempo dance stuff at shows, but I think we also do, what I would describe as more post-rock stuff that to me has a very nostalgic feel,” Miller said.

    Like many other bands, Lotus uses sampling to expand it’s capabilities live. During the course of a show, Miller may trigger banjo, cello and horn samples, he said.

    “It’s a very different style of sampling. I think when people think of sampling they think of taking a verse from something and bringing it in. We never really do anything like that,” Miller said.

    After playing the North Coast festival earlier this year, Lotus is touring with material off their new self-titled album, the group’s fourth full-length studio release. Compared to their previous album Hammerstrike, Lotus forwards a sound that leans more heavily on samples and synth.

    According to Miller, the electronic sway of the album was not a conscious decision. Instead it emerged when the band added to and recorded from the demos he created along with those of guitar and keys player Luke Miller.

    “We narrowed it down to these songs that we thought worked well together and had good energy and good flow throughout the whole album,” Miller said.

    Tracks like “Golden Ghost” showcase the electronic direction of the release.

    “I wanted to do something that was funky but also had a really propulsive groove. There’s a lot of interplay in that going on between the bass guitar and the synth bass. The ending section is really a collage. A lot of different sounds are coming in and out. A melody is being passed between a lot of different things,” Miller said.

    “The Surf” is the only track on the album that features vocals as they are traditionally conceived, though distorted words do color the soundscape created on some others including “Golden Ghost,” “Bush Pilot” and “Dowrn.”

    “I think with instrumental music there’s a lot of possibilities for the listener to really leave things open, and we always try to write music that has an emotional impact for people. I think everyone gets a little something different from it,” Miller said.

    For Miller, synthesizer parts create a sonic thread on the album that weaves the tracks together from the upbeat “Lou Carcohl” to the more gritty “Dowrn.”

    “I think in terms of sound there’s something going on in the balance between the electronic elements and the more organic elements that tie it together,” Miller said.

    No matter the direction of their release. Lotus lets personal creativity shape the music they create and not the techniques or styles currently in vogue.

    “Especially now in this hyper fast Internet age there’s a lot of new genres and styles that crop up really fast and also go away really fast,” Miller said. “We always try and do something that’s unique to Lotus and really carries our own voice.”

    Lotus will appear Nov. 4 and 5 at the Majestic Theater with Keys N Krates. Tickets are $22.50 adv and $25 dos. Doors at 8 p.m.

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