The Lotus Eaters
Styles: improvised dungeon drone
Others: Ninni Morgia and Silvia Kastel (circa "Two Couples"), Oxbow, House Of Low Culture
You probably feel like you need another Stephen O’Malley-related project like you need a cold sledgehammer to the nose, am I wrong? I mean there’s KTL, Æthenor, Burning Witch, Khanate, Pentemple, Fungal Hex, Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine, Ginnungagap… what’s a listener to do when there are so many variations to choose from?
In the case of Lotus Eaters, it’s important to keep one’s eyes on the prize (quite literally, as you — yes, YOU — have already missed out on silver and coke-bottle-green editions of this etched-Side-D 2XLP) because, via Wurmwulv, the trio of O’Malley, Isis’ Aaron Turner, and ye-olde-less-known-third-member James Plotkin (Khanate, Atomsmasher, O.L.D.) craft one of the eeriest stretches of space-bound, ghost-whisper drone you’ll hear this year (or since 2007, when it was initially released). This is what the forest in Avatar sounds like when the weird-ass, grown-smurf villagers retire for the night; this is what certain moments from the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack would sound like if the creepier moments were extended and cushioned by rowdy rumbles of bass and other pus-filled swells. This is the sound… of a nightmare that never ends, yet when the vinyl plays through you’re helpless. You’ve got to hear the rest.
Side C is particularly endearing, a resolute sweep of high, creaky tones that mimic the squeak of an old, wooden staircase extended into oblivion. The listener isn’t granted a reprieve until nearly 3/4 through, when speaker-torturing bass lift-offs, metal scraping/brushing, and other small snatches of almost glitch-esque sounds take over and spiral through the air like the white, hairy seeds of the doom dandelion. There’s no climax to speak of, yet it feels as if the entire recording has been building up to this moment, and as the conclusion nears, more and more elements enter the fray, to the point of spiraling out of control. It reminds me of taking acid, in particular the instance when you’re looking at something and your eyes begin to see more and more layers. Pretty soon, whatever you’re gazing at seems alive, and you’re left to wonder whether the Earth is a living being or you just took some really strong shit.
The tong-clanking and other noise-wringing afterward is a little too distracting and scattered, especially after having heard the masterfully controlled lift and pull of the preceding progressions, so there are times when a less-is-more approach might have yielded a more fruitful batch. Overall, however, fans of O’Malley (and his side projects), Oren Ambarchi, any number of drone-tape batches, Raccoo-oo-oon, Attestupa (and anything on Release The Bats, really), and related project will devour this and not-so-politely ask for seconds.