Lotto – Axolotl (Gusstaff Records)


Lotto are a Warsaw/Berlin trio of Łukasz Rychlicki (guitar, bass), Paweł Szpura (drums) and Australian Mike Majkowski (bass). Their music exists in murky terrain, part jazz, part electonics, part something else. And they embrace this. The joy of this trio has always been how difficult it is to describe what they are.

An Axolotl is a type of salamander, best known as a Mexican walking fish that is critically endangered in nature and has the ability to regenerate parts of their bodies including limbs, eyes, even parts of their brains. What the link to the music though is anyone’s guess, but I’m thinking maybe it’s the regeneration aspect. Perhaps they’ve cut off a metahorical musical limb and are allowing it to grow back in its own unique and different way. Because even within the oeuvre of Lotto, Axolotl feels different. There’s some vocals for a start, kind’ve long held wails that feel manipulated in a manner that’s difficult to articulate. Something’s not quite right. There’s an industrial feel to this outing, the drums crash abrasive and manipulated – or they’re just used drum machines, distorted keys, murky electronic loops. Even the resonances feel dirty. There’s something about this album, everything is electronic and on a darker tip. It feels slightly unhinged, not angry per se – but there is a vibe, and its not politeness.

The compositions are strange too, the trio are equally as interested in developing these dark dense atmospheric sound worlds as in creating any kind of feelings of momentum. Its shifting moods feel a little like the work of a solo electronic producer, there’s a real diversity of approach and intent. And the manipulated instruments and samples very much exist in that world. But perhaps it’s a little too weird to be the work of just one mind. It’s gleefully experimental music, dark, eccentric, but also strangely affecting. Think Bohren and Der Club of Gore meets the Necks by way of DJ Spooky’s Songs of a Dead Dreamer.

It’s weirdly refreshing to find a band you can’t classify do something even more unclassifiable, and to take things one step further, they’ve also released another album at the same time, and it couldn’t be more different. Summer is gentle, more acoustic sounding, restrained and exploratory. It’s a sweet natured younger brother to the darkness and grit of Axolotl.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.

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