A blooming lotus is like a magnet for the eyes, calling those who appreciate beauty, vibrancy, and shapeliness to gaze upon one of nature's small wonders. Guitarist Mike Moreno's Lotus has a similar draw, summoning the ears with its enchanting sonics and chimerical ideals.
On this, Moreno's fifth album, the lyrical and the fanciful stand united. The music itself can be serene and surreal, filled with iridescent colors, attractive lines, broken grooves, and beautifully shaped melodies. In a way it hearkens back to Moreno's work on pianist Aaron Parks' landmark Invisible Cinema (Blue Note, 2008), an album that also glows with a prismatic quality. Three-quarters of the band from that dateParks, Moreno, and drummer Eric Harlandappears here, so that comparison, also noted by Moreno himself, is an apt one.
Lotus opens on a freely executed, classically-infused acoustic guitar introduction that cleanly leads into "The Hills Of Kykuit," a spellbinding number that demonstrates how harnessed intensity can serve a song. Then there's the soothing title track and the wonder-filled "Hypnotic." The former is a balm for the ears and the soul while the latter finds Harland playing with, against, and around the rest of the band.
In much of this work, Moreno is able to boil things down to their essence. And that's not say that this is simple music, because it's not. It just isn't needlessly complex. Pieces like "The Empress" and "Can We Stay Forever?" allow the beauty of Moreno's writing to shine through without any distraction. Even a more daring number like "The Last Stand," opening on Harland's excitable drumming and moving swiftly along, seems unencumbered, left to fly free of any structural overburdening. With Lotus, Moreno finds the right balance between sophistication and clarity.
Intro; The Hills Of Kykuit; Lotus; Hypnotic; The Empress; The Last Stand; Can We Stay Forever?; Blind Imagination; Epilogue-The Rise.
Mike Moreno: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Aaron Parks: piano, Rhodes piano; Doug Weiss: bass; Eric Harland: drums.
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