The journey for Lotic started in 2011 with the release of More Than Friends. From this early work, it was obvious producer J’Kerian Morgan was set on producing mutations of the techno and dance foundations of electronic music. The experimental edge of Lotic featured abstract notions towards rhythm and a harsh quality in the use of noise, both of which were able to morph the breakbeats and progression of electronic music. Each record along the way, but especially the outstanding Heterocetera and Agitations, propelled forwards this overarching avant-garde theme. These works revealed the embrace of transcendent motifs, producing an off-kilter interpretation of grime, techno, dance, and bass music.
Albums from Lotic have always been ambitious, and that has verged into an almost mechanical demeanor when it comes to the music. Not to say that the works were devoid of emotion, but there was something inherently cold-blooded about the corpus of this work. At least so far, because Power makes a turn towards something more organic and compassionate. There is a delicate and subtle element that defines the essence of this work. The arrangements in opener “Love and Light” speak to that effect, granting a preciousness to the overwhelming soundscapes.
Power is also the first work to include vocals from Morgan, which unveil a very different facade. That adds emotion and more energy to the dark background, providing uplifting moments, as is the case in “Hunted”, where the repetitive mantras radiate a sense of hypnosis. The tribal element that this brings to the fold is also illustrated with the progression of the track, and it is that notion of ritualism that also acts as a point of reference. As something archetypical that speaks to all that listen.
The extreme edges of Lotic still form a core part of Morgan’s vision. Noise comes in to balance out the edges of this work. “Bulletproof” for instance, carries down the tribal percussion notions of “Hunted”, but adding a layer of noise to give a more immediate and almost hostile approach to the process. The sudden changes that take place, switching from the distorted bass to a noir-esque vocal delivery amidst the heavy percussion, are also an impressive aspect of this work. It reveals the versatility of Morgan, and how it can be implemented to full effect.
Similar to the case of the noise influence, this work does not abstain from experiments in rhythm. Heavy beats dictate this work, as with “Distribution of Care”. But it is the dive into polyrhythmic concepts, in the short “The Warp and The Weft” or the erratic “Heart”, that act as the guides through this marvelous trip down this rabbit hole. And it is all performed with a sense of wonder that is never far away. It is what also sees Lotic tackle different genres, bursting into a hip-hop rendition with “Nerve”, or including an almost metallic drum fill in the title track.
One of the things that always impressed me with Lotic was that there existed an underlying playfulness. Even when the works became more abstract, when experimentation run rampant, and noise appeared all-devouring, there was always a subtle grin behind all of that. The essence of Power relies on this same principle, but this time it has titled towards the use of melody. Many of the passages in this record are stunning, with Morgan providing hooks that are simply mesmerizing. The main theme of “Distribution of Care” is such an instance, as are the waves of synths that wash over “Resilience” on top of the heavy noise and the sorrowful phrases of “Fragility” that provide a nostalgic tonality. It is a very daring step forward, but Morgan has pulled it off.