Lotus ‘Build' (SCIFidelity)
After years with feet planted in both the dance music and jam band camps, Denver-based Lotus retooled significantly on its self-titled 2011 album, adopting more hip-hop textures and cleaning up the arrangements — the group finally sounded less like a jam band that loved rap and more like a hip-hop band with Bonnaroo-bred chops. Lotus' new disc, “Build,” continues the band's strides toward sophistication: The horn-and-strings fueled opening track “Break Build Burn” is just waiting for some luxury-rap verses from Kanye West to push it up the charts.
The band still sounds thoroughly organic thanks to drummer Steve Clemens' powerful fills and Luke Miller's soulful organ work on “Middle Road” and “Kodiak,” but Lotus finds a way on “Build” to incorporate dubstep effects and Krautrock keyboards — on “Ashcon” and the album's two-part closer, “Neon Tubes,” the band seamlessly brings together these aesthetics. Bassist/sampling artist Jesse Miller's depth charges combine with Mike Rempel's guitars to create just the right balance between man and machine.
While so many SCIFidelity bands are better experienced live than on record, Lotus, which performed this week at Diamond Ballroom, proves with “Build” that their albums are not just enticements to buy concert tickets. Few jam bands could be slotted into electronic mixes without causing a few dancer injuries, but with “Build,” Lotus never misses a beat.
— George Lang