Lotus Plaza is the solo project of Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt. Spooky Action at a Distance is Pundt’s second release after 2009′s very bright but somewhat washed-out debut, The Floodlight Collective. Like Deerhunter frontman and bandmate Bradford Cox did with last year’s Parallax (#2 on my Top 11 Albums of 2011), Lockett Pundt proves once again that members of busy bands can produce wonderful things on their own time. It should also be noted that the outspoken Pundt may be the ideal aesthetic foil for Cox and the reason why Deerhunter has gained so much dutiful notoriety.
If you weren’t sold with The Floodlight Collective, don’t be fooled by Spooky Action‘s brief, untitled opener. ”Strangers” should answer that. Sure, guitars will loop-de-loop and pedals will be pressed throughout, but the new album shows a major improvement in Pundt’s songwriting. His vocals, filtered at times and almost always echoed, still take a backseat to the multi-layered guitar work; however, the lyrics are now discernible and the listener has the option of singing along instead of a humming relegation.
Lotus Plaza is still shoegazey, but think the Jesus & Mary Chain (particularly on tracks like “Out of Place”) rather than My Bloody Valentine, one of Pundt’s oft-cited influences. Spooky Action is less asleep and dreamy than its predecessor and more a conscious daydream where you’re gently prodded on a regular basis by a slowing tempo (“Strangers”), a poppy chorus (“Dusty Rhodes”) or stripped down instrumentation (the acoustic closer “Black Buzz”).
Aside: How can an artist write a song called “Dusty Rhodes” and not reference “the Amewican Dwee-um Dusty Whodes?” I have since learned thanks to wikipedia that there are more than a few Dusty Rhodes: a San Francisco Giant’s outfielder, a 1960′s country music producer, musician Robert Fripp’s touring name with Peter Gabriel. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one Dusty Rhodes.
For the past week and a half, the new record has become Spooky Action [While Driving a Short] Distance; every morning/afternoon commute and much needed get-the-hell-out-of-the-office-for-a-drive-to-avoid-a-total-meltdown has been spent listening to Spooky Action. It’s an incredibly cathartic listen and later, longer tracks like “Jet Out of the Tundra” and “Eveningness” speed by in deceiving haste as I putt-putt around in Dodge Stratus.
Noteworthy Tracks: “Strangers,” “Out of Touch” and “Dusty Rhodes”