Lotic Agitations

[Janus; 2015]

Styles: noise, seduction, #electronic
Others: Bekelé Behanu, Kyselina, M.E.S.H., Kablam, HVAD

Resonating with the innards of Lotic’s current state, the felicitous title of his latest endeavor is well-suited, as Agitations carries its meaning in plurality.

First, entailing a move or force toward violent, irregular action, Agitations turns out more as a noise release. Despite the riotous tone of Heterocetera and DAMSEL in DISTRESS, Agitations represents a brisk acceleration in the direction of more conclusive cacophony with which he reconditions the tenacity and grit that defines his music. In Lotic’s own words, it represents “the rebuilding and reclamation of confidence.” By the same token, it also relates to his approach in the club setting, a place where he’d rather play “to that one person in the corner of the room” who’s waiting for the DJ to incite an element of violence or irregularity within the space. Likewise, in terms of his productions, Lotic tells us, “I’m not writing music in a vacuum. I’m paying attention to what’s going on around me and fucking with it.” Thereby, Agitations serves as a disturbance, an interruption.

Agitations also implies a move to and fro, which in a sense epitomizes Lotic’s general dynamic. From earlier work, such as his More Than Friends EP on Ben Aqua’s #FEELINGS label, to the Fallout EP for Sci Fi & Fantasy, to the mixtape-form DAMSEL in DISTRESS, to this year’s penultimate Heterocetera, Agitations finds Lotic returning to his Janus stable for its 004 release, where it follows Bekelé Behanu’s Untitled, HVAD’s self-titled, and Lotic’s very own DAMSEL in DISTRESS. By this, Lotic’s “homecoming” continues the agitated motion imparted by his personal mechanics, while on a wider note it represents a move against the tide. With a reaffirming stance, Lotic reminds us of his own meaning as well as that of Janus: “It’s a reminder of ambition, a reminder that there is great strength in having the outsider’s perspective.”

Indeed, tucked away in the corner of Berlin at the dingy Chesters venue, Janus’s own club nights certainly represented an outsider perspective. Locally, it wasn’t necessarily about being alternative, but as Lotic states, “people were so sick of hearing straight techno everywhere.” In terms of ambition, recent company with Berghain and overseas expansion suggest, to a degree, an attainment of the desire for some type of achievement or distinction. Of course, noise only sounds for a moment; when it succeeds, it becomes music. Agitations therefore represents a desire to sustain that important momentum within a political economy of music, where, according to Lotic, “the notion that music can be apolitical is in and of itself privileged.”

Further, to agitate it is to disturb or excite emotionally — to arouse, to perturb. Agitations effectively represents the balance between noise and seduction that Lotic is concerned with. As he explained to TMT writer SCVSCV, “I’ve always had a love for noise music and for noisy music. Loud chanting, distortion — always gives music a bit more life for me. But at the same time, noise isn’t necessarily sexy, and seduction is equally as important to me, so each production — and DJ set too — is me trying to work out some way of having both elements present and playing nicely with one another.” While the noisier side appears to weigh heavier on the surface of Agitations, seduction in this case is also heavily related to leading astray — corruption, perversion, distortion.

Like much of what Lotic does, Agitations begins from a place of frustration, with mechanical sounds archetypical to Lotic’s productions, suggestive of machines falling apart. Reversed glitches and fidgety percussion affirm an overriding sense of unease, followed by a fire of time-stretched vocal outbursts, eerie pads spawning more tension, and a blast of screeching synths that ultimately signal emergency. Stability lingers in rhythms that ricochet and bounce but are quickly intercepted. A reverb tail gives way to an unexpected rest, followed by synthetic strings, threaded, but with friction in their movement — it’s not exactly discordant, but it’s more contention than harmony as sounds struggle together in opposition. Thereafter, stuttering samples are set against both a beat that perpetually falls over itself and a sine-tone melody reminiscent of a siren, along with connotations of urgency.

The artwork for Agitations — created by visual artist Alberto Troia (a.k.a. Kyselina) — features a skeletal structure, restrained in chains but breaking away. It’s ambiguous, like the music, but it seems to represent the same feeling of frustration that birthed Agitations. It also follows the visual theme of Heterocetera, featuring a skeletal structure that, on closer inspection, appears to be made out of glass, shattering. Lotic’s comments on Troia’s artwork hold true on Agitations. “It’s almost like a wordless expression of a world that isn’t quite right, one that’s ensnared in its own mirage of polished strength, but cracks easily. It’s this awareness of a certain fragility,” he says. The fragility of Agitations is glaring. As it vulnerably oscillates the bowels, it is reinforced in as much as the frequency of the device matches the frequency of the source.

Links: Lotic - Janus

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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