Release Date: Mar 24, 2009
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
Lotus Plaza's The Floodlight Collective will sound familiar -- in the comfortable, welcoming way, not the contempt-breeding one -- to a lot of listeners. Diehard Deerhunter fans heard many of these songs from the group's guitarist/vocalist Lockett Pundt via the band's website, and in a lot of ways, this album underscores exactly why Pundt works so well in Deerhunter (he contributed some of Microcastle's finest songs). Lotus Plaza's approach is certainly simpatico with Pundt's other band -- he piles layer upon layer of interesting sounds on top of sweet, surprisingly simple melodies -- but The Floodlight Collective falls somewhere between the more aggressive experimentalism of Cryptograms and Microcastle's subversive pop while carving out its own territory.
The last couple of years have seen Bradford Cox become alternative music’s pin-up boy of sorts, what with the outrageously frequent and potent recordings he’s been involved with lately. But it would seem that amid all the adulation for the prolific frontman, a vital component of his success has been all but swept under the rug. As Deerhunter‘s guitarist/miscellaneous noisemaker since just after the release of Turn it Up Faggot, Lockett Pundt has been the Robin to his Batman.
It'll be a shame if Lockett Pundt's solo debut gets lost in all the light and heat coming from his main band. But it won't be surprising. In a rare interview, the shy Deerhunter-er told blog BBQCHICKENROBOT that he started recording his album at the beginning of 2007. Since then, Deerhunter has released Cryptograms, the Fluorescent Grey EP, and last year's Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.; lead singer Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound has released Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, plus a staggering number of mp3s, mixes, and non-album tracks.
There’s a scene in Stand By Me where Chris, Teddy, Gordie and Vern are forging their way through the Castle Rock woods, dancing in step along train tracks to the Chordettes’ “Lollipop. ” Although the song suggests a devil-may-care sense of joyful abandon, there is a steep presence of danger lurking around every corner, be it Milo Pressman’s junkyard mutt Chopper, the threat of an oncoming train, or the dead body rotting in the river nearby. There is a similar moment in Lotus Plaza’s “Quicksand,” the second track off of Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt’s The Floodlight Collective.
Solo recordings and side projects can be awfully revealing where the inner workings and personal relationships of a band are concerned. Think of the tension that played out in the solo releases by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the late 1980s/early 1990s: Jagger made his case as the mutable pop troubadour with all eyes on the dollar signs, while Richards staunchly defended the Stones’ untainted rock and roll roots. Or they can simply be a venue for musicians to air ideas that don’t exactly fit the collective agendas of their bands, like Thurston Moore’s work outside of Sonic Youth or Thom Yorke’s extracurricular indulgences in electronic music.
Review Summary: Despite some promise, this debut mostly comes off as rehashed and boring. Upon first listen to Lockett Pundt’s (under the name of Lotus Plaza) debut full-length, The Floodlight Collective, I had to double-check my iPod to be certain I wasn’t listening to Deerhunter. Sure, there’s bound to be some similarities between the two projects, especially since Pundt’s main claim to fame is his role as guitarist for that Atlanta-based quintet, but The Floodlight Collective is a bit too derivative of what proceeded it.
Deerhunter fans have known about Lockett Pundt’s solo project, Lotus Plaza, for quite some time, with a good deal of its material turning up on the band’s blog last year. The most dedicated followers even put together a pre-release tribute album – imagined versions of announced but unheard songs (plus a Breeders’ cover). Songs that had circulated online pre-release – “These Years,” “Whiteout” and “What Grows” – were ruled out from the compilation, because, duh, everybody already knew what they sounded like.
With the opening, shimmering, moments of “Red Oak Way,” one could easily confuse it as the first song on the next Deerhunter album. Truth be told, Lotus Plaza‘s Lockett Pundt does very little to separate himself from the main band he’s in. However, like that song’s radiant glimmer and whole exquisiteness, Pundt’s debut album, The Floodlight Collective, is just as easily, one of the year’s superior debuts.